Two years ago I left full time work and started working on contract. That has slowly morphed into have my own business, and that business is changing into something more suitable for me as I roll along. Talking to Shelagh Cummins, my parents and my husband has let to more thinking, more changes, more doing.
Talking to my father about something totally different one day, I mentioned a new program at my Alma Mater, a Masters of Political Management. And he told me I should do that, in a way that told me he thought it was pretty obvious.
Since I graduated from university with my BA I have had questions and regrets. I didn’t do a four-year honours degree, I never took research methods and I think it would have been very beneficial.
I started thinking about going back for my Masters, but going back for my Masters means going back for a year first to finish my honours. And suddenly that’s two years, and a lot of money by the way.
But if I’m honest with myself, I have spent the past seven years thinking about maybe someday going back for a Masters, and regretting not doing my four-year. And as I said before my kid has taught me a bit about regrets.
So I have a lot to think about this summer, and perhaps some hard work ahead of me.
I’m terrified to jump in and do it, but I’m terrified I won’t too.
I posted here a little while ago about how the brain works, and how sometimes you just need to jump in with both feet. My daughter has taught me this lesson better than anyone and I’ve watched her try and fail and try again and succeed more times than I can count. I’ve also watched her find things she loves, things she can love for a long time that will be beneficial to her. I’ve watched her make mistakes and move on. I’ve watched her take a chance and make a friend.
We took a little trip to Sesame Place – highly recommend it for young kids, by the way. We went two days in a row. We spent the first wandering around the park, going on rides and having lunch with a few friends – you know, Elmo, Cookie Monster, the Count, Grover and Abby Cadabby. The second day we spent going to a couple of shows and playing in the water park. We also attended the neighbourhood party parade both days.
In the second song of the parade/party Abby Cadabby and Zoe have two helpers that bring kids into the parade to dance with them. Two or three kids each. The first day the song started and kids went up and mine sat there, in the stroller we had rented, upset that she hadn’t jumped at the chance to be in the parade with these characters she adores.
The second day the time came, Abby’s friend was looking for kids to dance. The second day my kid went for it and had a blast.
“Mommy, I liked being in the parade.”
She had a regret, and she went out and fixed it. Which is something I might be doing over the next few months…
The kid has finished her preschool career and we’re both feeling a bit sad to say goodbye, and then this week we went to visit her daycare provider – the woman who cared for her every day for a year and a half while I went back to work full time. She had asked to go and visit and we were welcomed with a big smile.
We have done a great job of finding places for this kid where she is welcomed and cared for in the ways she needs to be.
We knew her daycare provided was the right one as soon as we met her. The kid crawled over to her and proceeded to sit with her happily while we had our first meeting. There was no question they were comfortable together. We visited her preschool at an open house last year and decided it felt right and as the year went on it was clear we were right. She couldn’t have been in a better place with better people this year.
And I guess that’s why I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, a bit cautious and a bit sad. In September she starts kindergarten and things are mostly out of our hands. She gets assigned a teacher and classmates and it’s our job to make sure that things roll along smoothly.
It’s also the beginning of the next 14 years of her life. The routine we get into while she’s in school will be our routine more often than not until she’s an adult.
For now we have our summer. Tomorrow we leave for Sesame Place – and the kid doesn’t know where exactly we are going. We get a visit from Grandma and Grandpa next month and a trip to Halifax in August where we can play in the ocean together. And, of course, a whole list of things to do together.
So I’m going to try to live in the moment and expect the best.
It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something – Franklin D. Roosevelt
I have so many things moving through my head and through my life all the time that it’s hard to focus on what I need to do right now to move ahead with what I want to get done over all.
I want to write, I want to work more and grow my business, I want to cook, I want to exercise, I want to watch TV and movies, I want to read, I want to knit, I want to have a fun summer with my kid before she starts full time school, I want the house to be clean-ish.
I spend so much time trying to figure out what needs to take precedence, making to-do lists. I wonder if I’m really advancing any of my goals. I do I prioritize when everything is important for different reasons?
Every great writer says you need to write every day. I want to write every day. But then I stare at a blank page and doodle, or I open a tab on the blog and find other things to do. Does writing on a blog or journalling even count as writing in terms of the great ‘write every day’ advice?
Growing my business is up to me, figuring out who I’m trying to reach and explaining to that audience what I can do for them. And pretty important for the bottom line, and also my sanity.
Cooking and exercise – both very important for my health, the family’s health, and improving my mood and overall outlook. Plus I like to sweat, some days it really helps.
Taking care of the kid and having fun? That’s a no brainer.
That’s the best thing I can do for her and for me. We’re awesome together and soon she’s off to school and I’ll have more time for everything else. I need to have time this summer to prepare for that, to make sure I have things to fill those days while she’s off learning and making friends and starting her whole life. (Yes, I’m a bit dramatic about the whole thing. It’s life changing).
But, above all else, I can’t spend my days not trying to get something done. Something must get done. And so I make my lists and I try to check things off, my head swirling all the while with the things I’m not doing while I’m doing this.
How do you organize and prioritize?
I have long been a fan of Participaction. The ads with Hal and Joanne have been running since I was a kid and I have long been trying to ‘get fit and have fun.’ I am very proud to have a daughter who loves various kinds of exercising and is building her strength while having lots of fun.
Last week my husband sent me Participaction’s list of things Canadian kids should do before they turn 12. He was of the opinion that we’re doing pretty well with this list with our four-year-old, so let’s see:
Yeah, so that’s pretty good. And I have no doubts about most of these items being in her future, though we don’t have trees so we’ll have to find a pile of leaves somewhere. I’m kind of curious about the things that I’ve managed to do on this list.
I’m assuming I have thrown snowballs or rocks at a target but I honestly don’t remember. And I tried a sport that required a helmet but that was when I was 29. Now I need a list of things to do before I hit middle age.
My dad doesn’t believe in Fathers’ Day. In fact, he’s never been big on any of the holidays, except Christmas… Well, Boxing Day. Every year the whole family fills up his house on Boxing Day. And that’s a lot of us. There needs to be a collective noun for Scanlons.
I have spent a lot of my life not really understanding my relationship with my father. There have been times that I hated him for sure, times that I wished that he was more of a stereotypical dad. I was angry with him for not being the dad I thought I was supposed to have. Now that I’m older I have figured out a lot of things that he was trying to teach me when I was a kid and I see some of the benefits of his teachings in myself. I’m also a lot like him in a lot of good ways.
Watching people post pictures of their dads for Fathers’ Day I was sad again that I don’t have a real photo of my dad with me on my wedding day. I’m sad that he didn’t stay for pictures, and then I realize again that I didn’t ask him to, which probably bothered him. Being an adult means understanding the role I play too.
Since having my daughter I also have a better understanding for how much family means to my dad. I think it means more as he gets older. We took her to a basketball game when she was a baby and he walked her around introducing all his friends to her. He proudly introduces her as his ninth grandchild whenever we see him.
Meanwhile while I was wishing that my dad was more like dads you see on TV I had another Dad who was everything I needed. My Gramps helped teach me to read, taught me how to ride my bike. My grandparents took care of us and helped us play and have fun and provided for us.
And then there’s this guy:
He wanted to be a dad his whole life and I got to make him one. And I gifted him with the most awesome little girl in the world. How’s that for a Fathers Day present?
Joe is everything I could have wished as a father for my child. He’s engaged, he’s loving and he’s much better at playing than I am. He also challenges her, the way my dad challenged me.
I guess the biggest thing about Joe is that I was never planning to be a mother, but when we met and got married he convinced me that I could be a good one, and we’ve done alright.
The brain is an amazing thing. The whole body, really. I have been amazed at what my body can do now that I’ve started pushing myself and testing myself a bit more.
I have been running on the treadmill lately. At first I was going with a one minute run every ten, then I asked myself if maybe I could try to run one minute every five instead. And I could. I didn’t need all that recovery time that I thought. One day during my one minute run I decided to just keep going, and I made it to two minutes.
But some days I get on the treadmill and my legs feel leaden. My breath doesn’t flow, and it feels like my lungs are working properly. I adjust and keep going.
Some days I go outside for a walk/run instead of getting on the treadmill. The first time I did this I was terrified of what passers-by would think of me, struggling along in this body. But I did it anyway. I have found that running on the treadmill does not translate. And also that shin splints are very painful and make your legs feel very heavy.
But still, I have pushed through.
I went to the gym. Not sure if I really wanted to be there. I did some weights, and when none of the other weight machines was free I decided to get on the computer bike that I’ve done in the past. Follow a circuit, up and down hills. I chose one of the basic routes and started going and realized pretty quickly that I didn’t want to be doing that.
I told myself 10 minutes, just 10 minutes. Then I hit 10 minutes and I was very close to the 4 km mark, so I told myself I might as well keep going. Then from the 4 km to the 5 km was a lot of down hill, and that would get me half way. I would get going and quit at half way.
And then I didn’t. I finished. And the combination of the non quitting and the finishing made me feel pretty awesome on my wobbly legs. Six miles.
I’m starting to realize that this is it, this time. I’m making improvements, making real changes. Riding through the strong desire to quit. Patching up my blisters.
Because I can.
How have you amazed yourself lately?
I spent the day with a room full of women. There was a sing-a-long. There was a lot of experience shared. There was so much to think about I’ve been struggling with it since I got on the train back from Toronto. Luckily I was given a copy of Katty Kay’s book The Confidence Code (affiliate link) to read and try to remember all the thought-provoking things she said. I also spent the day tweeting things that resonated with me so that I could look back and remember through the overwhelm.
One of the most important things that struck me through the day was said in two different ways. Martha Stewart told us that she doesn’t lead differently because she’s a woman, she leads differently because she’s Martha. Katty Kay told us that while researching her book Womenomics she and her co-author discovered that Fortune 500 companies with women on their boards were doing better than those without. She said it’s important to remember that women should not try to be like men, because they we wouldn’t be bringing what only a woman can bring to the table.
Women spent a lot of time trying to gain respect by being more like men, but it doesn’t work. We should be ourselves, offer the best of ourselves and work hard. Be authentic. Women spend too much time thinking things over and too much time analyzing things after the fact, especially that one moment when we made a mistake. Men don’t do that. They move on. They speak up. Kay said confidence lies in that.
The best lesson of all came from Martha Stewart. She told us that as a child her father had told her she could do anything. And she believed him. And then she did everything.
What can a little encouragement – of myself and my daughter – lead to next?
At the end of last year the federal Conservative government faced a challenge – the Supreme Court had decided that the way prostitution were being ‘managed’ was unconstitutional, and the government had to draft a new bill.
They worked for months, consulting the public and experts, looking at how other governments had handled the issues.
This week they presented that new bill, which seems almost written to lose the next court challenge. Bill C-36 is titled The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.
The law that was struck down by the Supreme Court didn’t make prostitution illegal, it made certain things about prostitution illegal. The new law essentially makes prostitution illegal. It makes it illegal to buy sex or communicate about buying sex in a public place. This puts johns in a bad position and put sex workers in more danger, not less, which one would have thought would be one goal of the bill.
The fact is, illegal or not, prostitution and sex work will continue to exist. A lot of people tend to view sex workers as victims, which is true in some cases but certainly not all.