Canada 150

Canada is having a big birthday tomorrow! 150 years young.

We celebrate Canada Day every year but this is a special year so I made special shirts. I could have bought Canada shirts but where is the fun in that? Historically we have made flag hand print shirts which I love, but this year called for something extra special.

We live in a great country so get out and celebrate on July 1st.  Happy Canada Day!

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So what’s next?

Over the past two and a half years when I was asked “what do you do” (for work)? I answered, I am working on my Masters, which usually sparked a discussion about education. But it usually ended with “What are you going to do with that degree, or what kind of work are you looking for when you are finished?” This answer changed depending on my mood, how close I was to completion, and whether it was before or after my brain tumour situation.

Before I can answer what’s next, it might be important to understand why I went back to school in the first place.

When we moved to Victoria a city devoid of furniture manufacturing for my husband’s job I quickly realized that my diploma in furniture design wasn’t going to get me very far. I created a job for myself as a business consultant for a furniture dealer, and was later headhunted for a job in Vancouver. The company in Vancouver had a great education program, and I creatively earned a Bachelor of Design degree at night in hotel rooms.

Wow, I just realized how bad that sounds.

The creative part is that I could take all the certificates, diplomas and work experience I had, compile it all together and devise a plan to complete the academic requirements for a B.Des through Thompson River’s University. The hotel room resulted from a job which required weekly travel, and at night in hotel rooms I fervently worked away on course work.

Four years and one child later I graduated with a Bachelor of Design days before the birth of my second son. 

Knowing that a Bachelor of Design wasn’t going to change my situation much, a year and a half after my second son was born I applied to graduate school with the intention of completing a Masters of Business Administration, on a part-time (at night in a hotel room) basis. The universe had different plans for me and I ended up starting the September semester as a full-time student.

I rationalized the financial investment of an MBA by calculating the cost of childcare for the kids for the next three years and quickly realized that it was CHEAPER to get a MBA than it was to pay for care for my kids while I worked. That was a bit of an eye opener. I realize that there are lost opportunity costs, and other financial factors to consider but the decision to invest 40K in myself was easy to justify when I looked at the alternative of paying someone the same amount to change diapers. Plus, because it was an online program I could stay home with my kids. So, reason number two was to be more present for my kids.

The third reason was simply to see if I could do it. I have never been very good at math. Or at least that was my perception, being married to an Aerospace Engineer doesn’t do much for my math confidence. As it turns out my math skills are fine, or at least good enough to complete a MBA.

As I mentioned my husband is an Aerospace Engineer, and I am a furniture designer. It’s quite the combination, but not exactly a good combination if we are both wanting to be employed in the same city. Our careers, education and experiences are industry specific, and to broaden my career options I thought an MBA would open more doors. We have always had competing careers and something had to give, and that something was me.

For many reasons, I made the decision to pursue a MBA. But the question of what are you going to do after you graduate kept coming up repeatedly. So, what am I going to do next…

When I started the program 2.5 years ago, I was going to take over the world. Maybe not the world but certainly I intended to fully utilize the investment I was making in myself. But then I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and that changed everything. What was once important quickly became trivial. The quest for money and a career with power died and was replaced with a need for wealth.

Wealth in the form of time. Time to do what I enjoy. Time with my family. Time to travel. Time to live. You might think that you need to have lots of money to be wealthy, I disagree. Quoting from Wikipedia is a major faux pas in academic studies which is why it gives me great pleasure to do it here.

“Wealth has been defined as a collection of things limited in supply, transferable, and useful in satisfying human desires. Scarcity is a fundamental factor for wealth. When a desirable or valuable commodity (transferable good or skill) is abundantly available to everyone, the owner of the commodity will possess no potential for wealth. When a valuable or desirable commodity is in scarce supply, the owner of the commodity will possess great potential for wealth.”

Time is a scarce resource, and even though my brain tumour situation worked out in my favour it is a constant reminder that time is limited. When deciding what to do after I completed the MBA program, I thought a lot about what is important to me. 

My life works better when I am home, at least part of the time. I have worked full-time with kids in daycare, worked from home, traveled for work weekly, taken full year long maternity leaves, been a part-time student, and been a full-time student. I have tried it all. Some options were more successful than others, and keeping this in mind I knew that I wanted a job that gave me some flexibility with my time.

As it happened, I was contacted out of the blue in February through my LinkedIn profile. I got a message saying that there was an opportunity would I like to come in and discuss it. Never one to turn down an opportunity I took the meeting. When I was asked, what am I looking for in a position once I am finished my MBA I explained that the most important thing to me was time. Ideally, I was looking for a part-time position where I would work school hours allowing me to drop my kids at school, go to work and pick them up at the end of their day. Surprisingly they said yes. Mid March I signed a contract and I start Tuesday.

What am I doing? If you have read my about page, then you might know that it has always been a dream of mine to be an Interior Designer. I have in various capacities worked in Interior Design but never in a 100% dedicated role. I am super excited that everything aligned and I can do something I love and still do what works best for my family.

Do I need a MBA for this role? No, probably not. Will I use what I learned? Everyday. Reflecting on the last 2.5 years the academic education wasn’t the important part, what I learned in the process of learning is the gold.

MBA=40K, what I learned in the process=priceless.

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Celebrating my brain

Celebrating my Women on International Women’s day

I have been blessed to be surrounded by strong women my whole life. Women who believe that they are equal and can do anything.

When I was a kid in the 80’s I visited my Nana at work regularly, I remember that she had her own office and an assistant. She was the administrator of an long-term care facility, she cared for the sick and the dying. She also taught at a local university. This was my normal.

My Great-Aunt was an entrepreneur, she and my Uncle started a successful Interior Design company in Toronto. There was no denying that she was the boss (of everyone). This was my normal.

My mom stayed at home with four kids when I was young. With two kids of my own I now think that this is the hardest job ever. When my dad got laid off he stayed home, and my mom went to work. My dad braided our hair, and gave us face lift pony tails. My parents were equals, there were no male female roles. When we were deemed old enough my mom started her own business, and later worked as an Executive Director in a creative field. This was my normal.

When I chose to pursue an education involving power tools and welding, one of the women in my family footed the bill for four years of post secondary education, no questions asked. When I started a job that required time away from my kids my mom said that this would be the best thing for my kids and she was right. From a young age my kids have learned that mom and dad are interchangeable. Dad can do everything that mom can do, and mom can do everything that dad can do. Equality starts at home.

On International Women’s Day I celebrate all the women who have come before me, and who have persevered through inequality. It is because of you that I think that anything is possible, and that I am equal. #beboldforchange

With all my heart

my-valentineHappy Valentines’s Day! I am a celebrator, I celebrate everything. Including Valentine’s Day which my husband lovingly calls a Hallmark holiday.

On a side note, have you seen the price of cards lately? Ridiculous. I pulled out the Valentine’s card that my husband bought me two years ago. I think if you use them over and over again that maybe you can get $5.00 worth. Only three more years to go.

Last year we celebrated Valentine’s day with my parents at the Kennedy Space Station for an out of this world Valentines’ extravaganza. This year the celebration is much more subdued, and will include a giant heart cookie. When I was a kid we would go to the mall and I always wanted one of those giant chocolate chip cookies. Now that I am a grown-up and can operate the oven (most of the time) I figured that I would bake one for the family as a Valentine’s day treat.

I used this recipe but I cut the quantities in half for a medium sizedvalentine-cookie_making-a-life heart shaped cake pan.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

I mentioned in my last post that we traveled to Vancouver as a family for a week. My husband had a conference and I though that it would be a great time to take the kids and spend some time playing tourist. We went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge on the last day of our trip after spending three nights in a hotel as a family of four. It was just what I needed after spending most of the week inside hiding from the rain.

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6 Years for Better or Worse

6-years-2_making-a-life

Historically October has been a big month for my husband and I. We met 10 years ago in October, 9 years ago in October I moved across the country to live with him, and 6 years ago we got married not once but twice in October. October is our month. We got married legally in Victoria on 10/10/10, which is a very convenient date to remember. We then got married in Mexico on October 28 surrounded by friends and family.

I have become a celebrator, I celebrate everything post brain tumour. But a wedding anniversary that is a super big deal. Being married is hard, which is why I think that there is so much divorce. It’s hard to stick through the “for better, for worse”times and still love each other. We have had our challenges but we are still making the choice to show up and that deserves a celebration!

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Thankful

Today and everyday I am thankful for many things. Most of all I am thankful for these guys. They make me laugh, they make me mad, they make me cry, they make it possible to run through a full gamut of emotions in an afternoon.

Yesterday we hit the beach with the intention of taking some new family photos. We have been documenting the growth of these kiddos with an over abundance of photos, but they don’t seem to mind. Taking photos at the beach allows them to play while I snap away, and for a few moments we ask them to sit still, which typically has mixed results.

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The Royal Visit 2016

This past week the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge along with their children, were in BC for a visit. I am not normally a Royal fan but since there were in town I figured I would get in on the action. They were sailing past our house, and it didn’t take much effort to walk to the end of the block. My seven-year-old son wanted to see what a Duke and Duchess looked like so he joined me. While we were waiting for their tall ship to appear he played at the beach.

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Hey, Are You Guys Sisters?

Brain 5This past summer I was able to spend some time with my youngest sister. She lives in Ontario and I live in BC, if you are not a geography buff that is about 4,300 km apart. Not exactly close enough to pop by for tea and thus we only see each other once a year. Over the past few years when we have had our yearly visits we haven’t been out much. With 4 young kids between us we weren’t exactly hitting the town. While we were visiting this summer we were able to escape the kids for a few hours.

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Fourth Birthday

4th-making-a-life_4I really don’t know where the time went. One day he was a baby and the next he is 4. When I was in the midst of diapers, nap-time, breastfeeding, and spoon feeding I though that the baby days would never end. Days dragged on and I waited not so patiently for my husband to get home so that I could get a few moments to myself. Now with a preschooler and a child in grade 2 life revolves around school drop off and pick-ups. We will however, continue to celebrate each passing year as it marks the growth that we have all achieved and of course take loads of photographs.

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