NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS

April 26, 2014 - Leave a Response

 

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My little children’s book, which was inspired by the surprisingly profound words of my daughter, has just been made into an app! My daughter Dominique, who inspired the book at the age of five, also painted the images drawn by talented local artist Jennifer Nicol. Dominique and her little sister, Isabella, also recorded the voices on the app. It has been such a special project!

Despite exhaustive attempts to get it noticed, no one would give it a chance. Had it simply been my book, I would have given up. Because it was inspired by my daughter and included her paintings, which she worked so hard on, I refused to give up. And now, I offer you My Heart Never Lies. Thanks so much to Authorly for making it happen.  Could not be more proud!! Sometimes, we need to take a lesson from our children. Empower them to use their voice and make the world a better place.

I hope you enjoy the book, if you are so inclined. Here it is on the App Store, Google play and Amazon.

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What Would You Do If No One Was Watching?

June 2, 2013 - Leave a Response

I recently came across an interesting question on a women’s forum. It asked: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? As one might expect, the responses were very diverse. It got me thinking about what I would do if I weren’t afraid but first, I had to question what it was, exactly, that I feared. After a bit of soul searching, I realized that I am hugely afraid of what others think of me.

Others help define me

It is very constricting and let’s others help define me and what matters to me.  So, I started to wonder what I would do if I didn’t pay attention to anyone around me, save for my family and close friends. It was like a huge weight just lifted. It was completely liberating. That would mean that I would simply do what was entirely right for me and my family. In my career, it wouldn’t matter where I sat, or how others perceived me and my actions. That means that at the end of the day, I only have to answer to myself and can feel good, or not, about the things that matter to me.

What really matters

That has instantly removed a great deal of pressure. It’s no longer about the title and it is not a competition. It’s just about the work and the self-worth. So much easier! I don’t know if I could possibly sustain that notion but I would certainly like to. Life seems so much easier with far less aggravations this way. You should try it! Or don’t. It doesn’t matter to me. Life’s too short.

A Little Welcome Perspective

May 28, 2013 - Leave a Response
Jennifer's illustration, which Dominique painted to be featured in the book.

 

I get home today after a pretty bad day at work feeling completely dejected. I am immediately greeted by my two beautiful daughters who rush into my arms with words of affection and praise. Really, is there anything better than that? Not for me. Not even close.

Why was I feeling bad again?

Nothing like children to remind you of what really matters.

FOLLOWING MY HEART

May 21, 2013 - Leave a Response

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I did it! I am so excited to say that I have put my words into action and written a little children’s book based on my daughter’s very profound words. My Heart Never Lies is the result. I have found someone who is willing to publish it as an e-book. The illustrator, Jennifer Nicol of Jennifer’s Flying Colours, is actually working with my daughter, Dominique, on the paintings. She is getting Dominique to paint over her illustrations and the results are incredible (see picture above as example). It is such a personal and special family project.

I am equally excited about the message it sends to other children. I believe the fact that the story was inspired by the words of a five year old and that that same child is directly involved in the illustrations is very empowering to children. It demonstrates that they do have a voice and a very influential one at that. The experience has really increased Dominique’s self-confidence and helped her come out of her shell. There is really something to be said for exploring a child’s creativity. As it turns out, my daughter is a very talented artist on top of being wise beyond her years.

I am so excited to get started on my next children’s book, which has already been inspired by my younger daughter.  I can’t wait to tell you more about it!!

Who is Teaching Whom?

May 9, 2013 - Leave a Response

Mom's Juggling Act

Adults need to be taught a lesson sometimes. There are no better candidates to humble us into this realization than our own children.

I came to this conclusion only recently, when I scolded my five-year-old daughter for turning the hose on her two-year-old sister on a cool, early fall day.

I was surprised by her behaviour – she is usually such a gentle and considerate child. Her sister was equally surprised and justifiably upset.

I sent five-year-old Dominique upstairs to consider her actions. She seemed at a loss to explain them, until she ran into her father.

“What happened,” he asked a visibly distraught Dominique.

She pondered the question only seconds before explaining: “I didn’t listen to my heart Daddy.”

“My mouth doesn’t always tell the truth,” she continued. “But my heart never lies. My heart was telling me not to do it but my hands just wouldn’t listen!”

While somewhat…

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Presumed Guilty Despite the Evidence

May 8, 2013 - Leave a Response
Show me a woman who doesn’t feel guilty and I’ll show you a man.
 
 
Erica Jong famously originated the quote that so many women can relate to. For working moms, it is all-consuming. Or as Arianna Huffington put it: “I think that while all mothers deal with guilt, working mothers are plagued with guilt on steroids!”
 
 
We may be short on time most days but guilt – TONS to go around.  There are so many situations and possibilities that can inspire those oh so familiar feelings (from the serious to the completely trivial) that I can’t even begin to list them. I think the bigger challenge is to explain moments that are genuinely bereft of them. But at the end of the day, that sort of crippling weight must have profound implications. I am seriously getting heartburn just writing about it. Will we ever escape it? Or, do we just accept that we are genuinely doing the best we can and the world will not end if we forgot to dress our children in green on St. Patrick’s Day? Ultimately, we need to consider the evidence. My children are some of the happiest, most well adjusted people that I know.  Guilty of what, exactly?

What’s good for the daughter…Does not apply to the wife?

May 3, 2013 - One Response

A former colleague once questioned: “Why have children if you are not ready to commit to them?” Of course, he was referring to his wife and by commit, he meant leave the workforce.

Interesting question…

“So, all this money you are spending on private school for your daughter,” someone countered. “ I presume you are expecting her to go to University?”

The proud papa responded in the affirmative.

“And all that will be forgotten once she has children?” was the next question.

It was met with silence.

After some thought, the proud papa had to concede a certain weakness in his logic. His daughter would likely become someone’s wife. Would all her hard work, and his investments, be for naught? Now there was a compelling new thought.

Positive energy breeds positive results

May 1, 2013 - One Response

While debating the pros and cons of trying to advance a career while raising a family, I recalled an inspiring discussion I had with another woman who was about a day away from her retirement. She had managed to climb the ladder and become a senior manager in her workplace. I asked her if she had any regrets and if she would do anything differently. Her answer really stayed with me.

Start from the highest plain

She explained that to empower her children, she had to first empower herself. She noted that she needed to raise herself as high as she could to bring her children even higher. If we don’t reach high and attain our own dreams, she said, we are not offering our children a very good platform to build on.

That logic really resonated with someone else recently. She noted that for a couple of years, she was less than pleased with herself and her choices and felt consistently down as a result; being so low gave her little leverage to prop her children up. Eventually, she was able to improve her situation and feel better about herself and her children benefited as well. Everyone became the better for it.

It was a very powerful message that continues to inspire me to this day. Our children obviously want their parents but quality is just as, if not more important than quantity. We owe it to our children to give them our best. Feeling good about ourselves, our decisions and our contributions certainly plays into that.

Are long working hours necessary or just optics?

April 29, 2013 - Leave a Response

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Working Mothers Canada, my little LinkedIn group, has already spawned some interesting discussions – if only offline at the moment. A friend brought up the expectation that certain positions require long hours. But is it really necessary or is it just optics?

Time vs effort

I recalled a job I once held that did imply long hours but I started to pay attention to how those hours were spent. One colleague, who appeared to leave the latest, spent a good chunk of her day in other offices discussing myriad topics that were not always related to work. Another colleague, who left considerably earlier, was usually hunched over her computer and literally running to meetings. It was once noted that the shorter-hour employee out-produced many of her coworkers. At the end of the day, which one received more praise or credit? I couldn’t tell you. But it did raise an interesting question for me. Should we be judged on the hours of our work or the effectiveness of our work? The answer seems obvious to me.

A happy employee is a loyal employee

Research suggests that working very long hours can actually be counter-productive. Mistakes happen when we are tired and stressed. Ultimately, a happy and rested employee is a productive and long-term employee. Spending quality time with my family certainly makes me happy. Maybe that explains my intense focus at work. Sheryl Sandberg (who I know I’ve been quoting a lot of late) manages to leave work at 5:30 most days despite being Facebook COO (although she does admit to spending most evenings post-dinner on remote access). She suggests addressing your hours early on to create clear and workable expectations. So, I ask you, is it necessity that demands the really long hours at work and away from family or is it something else?

 

Finding Great Opportunities to Link Up

April 29, 2013 - Leave a Response

After writing my last post about trying to do it all, which was largely inspired by the book Lean In, I did a quick search on LinkedIn to find professional groups that address these issues or, at the very least, offer a little support. My perfunctory search turned up very little. So, I decided to start my own. Working Mothers Canada was my response. I confess, I did it in the spur of the moment and very quickly but I absolutely don’t regret it. I don’t feel any sense of shame in admitting that I am struggling with trying to raise my two daughters – luckily, with great support from my husband – and trying to build a successful career. Let’s face it, society obviously puts great deal of pressure on women to attain impossible standards. But I don’t think anyone could apply more pressure than I do on myself. Everything has to fit around my children and for that, I make no apologies.  But the challenge of fitting everything else is daunting and at times, overwhelming. So, recognizing that I am certainly not alone, I decided to start my own little group. Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In Author and Facebook COO, encourages women to build on the efforts of previous generations of women and at least take the opportunity to start a discussion. It might not ease the pressure we put on ourselves but it does help to share. Perhaps we learn, perhaps we encourage and, perhaps we just find a great excuse to laugh. It’s always better to do it together.