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.

sparkler
Celebrating my brain

A Few of my Favourite People

B2We see my sister and her kids once a year. Each time we see them we have a little photo shoot. It’s challenging to get a 1,2,3 and 7-year-old to look at the camera at the same time with their eyes open and smiles bright. Sometimes it works but most of the time no matter the timing, the treats, or the silly jokes it’s not always a success.

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Butchart Gardens – Victoria

Butchart Gardens 37 Making A LifeLast week, I was writing about being a tourist in my home town, so it’s only fitting that today I write about exploring Victoria. My first trip to the Butchart Gardens was a magical memorable day. My boyfriend had just moved to Victoria, BC and I visiting from Toronto. We were young, childless and carefree. We woke up on a Saturday morning and he told me that he had to run out for a bit. When he returned, without any words he tied a string to my finger. Just a plain beige string, nothing fancy. He held the other end in his hand. I looked at him with a puzzled expression not understanding what was about to happen. Next I felt a ring on my finger. My ring finger. Still no words from him. He never officially asked but that was the moment that we got engaged.

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I just want snow

S14I know that I have readers all over the world, and for those of you still digging yourselves out of the snow you might be surprised that my son asked for snow for his birthday. It has been 2 years since he has been able to play in the snow. I have fond memories of playing in the snow when I was a kid, and so I do understand his request. When asked if he wanted to go skiing or have a birthday party he opted to go skiing, which really impressed upon me how important this was to him.

So we rented a ski condo from a friend, packed up our (newly purchased/borrowed/knitted) snow gear and set out for the mountain. In an effort to make the most of our weekend I booked lessons for the kids and my husband who had never skied or snowboarded before.

I learned to ski when I was a kid and skied through highschool as part of the ski club but it has been 16 years at best guess since I have skied. To be truthful I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t remember how, or that I wouldn’t be much good. That whole brain tumour, metal plate in my head thing has made be overly cautious. I was also nervous about the movement and potentially getting dizzy. I am 100% OK when I am walking but I have had some movement issues post surgery. But I am so happy to report that I skied (wearing a helmet) for two days. My body was sore but my heart was full. I am happy to have been able to do something that I really enjoy.

S10The birthday boy unfortunately had a different experience. Five minutes into his ski lesson my husband took the call to pick my son up because he had been sick. They both missed their lessons, and the birthday boy spent the next two days in bed with the flu. I felt awful for him. He did get on skies briefly, threw some snowballs and went for a sled ride but he missed out.

My youngest however has proven to be a true snow bunny. My husband was able to reschedule his snowboarding lesson and would do it again, and I conquered a small fear, so all in all the trip was a success. We will be back at it next year, hopefully earlier in the season!

 

In true Making a Life fashion I knit the kids matching multi-colour hats and for myself a white/orange winter hats for the occasion.

Happy 3rd Birthday

At the end of August my youngest turned three just a couple of weeks after I had surgery. We still managed to celebrate multiple times. When my parents were here we had a little family celebration complete with store-bought cupcakes. On his actual birthday we had a store-bought cake. There isn’t anything wrong with buying cakes from the store but I use every occasion as a reason to bake.

The baker in me was having a really hard time but I was not in any state to be baking. I was still recovering from brain surgery. But that didn’t go on forever and when I was feeling better we threw a birthday party/Timmy the tumour eviction party. We asked friends for donations to the Brain Tumour Foundation instead of birthday gifts. That might seem mean but we have so many toys he really doesn’t need anything else. Can you find him in toy mountain?

The theme for the party was robots because now that I have a titanium plate in my head I am part robot. But really it’s what my little boy asked for. In keeping with the theme we made a robot pinata. Unfortunately when I took the robot outside for a photo-shoot one of my assistants closed the front door which locked behind us. Even more unfortunate I had to call my husband at work 45 minutes away to come and let us in the house. It was just before lunch and the kiddies were hungry thankfully my husband rescued us before we needed to smash the robot for lunch.

By the time the party happened I was four weeks post surgery and I figured that I was fine to start baking. Which I would have been if I chose to make a less detailed cake. After completing the robot cake I needed a nap.

The birthday boy said that it was the best day of his life and of course that makes all of the effort worthwhile.

The first week back

It’s been 5 weeks since my craniotomy to remove Timmy the tumour. This past week was also the first week back to school. My oldest started grade 1 without any tears, which was a very big deal. I started back to school pursuing a MBA online for my third semester. My youngest starts preschool next week which we are both looking forward to. My husband was at a conference all week and basically came home to change and sleep. On Thursday he flew to Ontario for the weekend to spend much needed time with his family.

For the transition back to school I was pretty much flying solo and by Friday I was so proud of myself. I had S to school everyday on time with a healthy lunch and clean clothes. I managed to complete the course work for the first module in two of my classes. I finished an art piece for a juried Brain Tumour exhibition. The kids had an after school play date three of four school days. I hit my fitness goals twice in the week by walking S home from school. I even managed to bake a cake for my cake decorating class. My house was moderately clean which is about as clean as it ever gets. I felt like I was on top of the world. After four weeks of resting it was a busy week.

I had registered for a cake decorating class in June and after the first class the instructor had to cancel because he had to have surgery. Then I had to have surgery so we coordinated schedules and I am back to class in September. This class requires that I bake something every week so that I have something to decorate. Which also means that I have way too much baking in the house thankfully our babysitter accepts payment in cupcakes!!

Saturday morning my youngest had a runny nose which isn’t such a huge deal, but then my oldest started throwing up. He had a fever and it was probably the sickest he has ever been. He slept with me so I could keep an eye on him and we have an en-suite. I knew that the kids would be fine they bounce back from being sick so quickly. But I have been afraid of getting sick since I had surgery. I am not interested in a head cold because my head is still healing. I am really not interested in throwing up for many reasons but primarily because I am supposed to stay away from jarring activities. Plus does anyone ever want to get sick.

The chances of making it through the weekend without getting sick were not in my favour. Saturday night I got a sore throat and was congested. But on the bright side I can now sleep on the left side of my head! After 5 weeks of only sleeping on my right side it a welcome change to sleep on my left. It was pretty much a necessity to be able to switch sides so that I could breathe. Perhaps this cold is my body’s way of telling me to slow down and rest again, or it’s those germy kids either way I am going to have an afternoon nap. If I have learned anything from this brain tumour it’s that we should listen to our bodies, we only get one and it’s a gift that needs to be taken care of.

It only took 6 years…

We live 5,000 kilometers from all of our family which makes some things a little tricky logistically. When our first son was born we investigated getting him baptized. We had decided that we would try and baptize the kids into my husband’s religion which proved to be very difficult. I say investigated because we live on an island where there isn’t a church of my husbands religion. There were also some pretty strict rules about who could be the children’s godparents. The best option that we had available would prove to be very expensive, involve ferry travel and included strangers as godparent’s. Not exactly the ideal situation. So for years we didn’t do anything because we felt that we hit a road block. The solution that we finally chose was to baptize the children in a church that was neither mine or my husbands. That might seem extreme, but it was actually the best option for all of us. We found a church which would baptize the children and welcome us all. The minister was lovely and organized a ceremony on a very short timeline. The minister removed all of the barriers which we had previously run up against, which in my mind is the way that religion should be anyway. We met with him on a Friday and baptized the children on Sunday while we were visiting family. This also allowed our family to be present and be involved in the ceremony. My mom arranged a little party last minute and the whole day came together without any issues.

In my regular style the event included cupcakes!

Family Day

In honour of BC’s family day I made this crafty piece.  Our names just happen to work together to make this scrabble like piece.  To create this on your own start with a shadow box (this one is 11×17), or a frame deep enough that you have space for the tiles between the glass and the back.  Then using matte board cut the piece that you are going to glue the letters on to, I took the back of the frame off, traced it and cut it with a utility knife.  Next using letters from a scrabble game I bought at a thrift store, I laid out the names, making sure that there was equal spacing on all sides.  Then using painters tape I made straight lines on the matte board to use as a guide when hot gluing the letters on.  You could draw pencil lines on too, but the painters tape is faster in my opinion.  Next using hot glue attach the first word to the matte board, continue placing painters tape, and attaching letters until all of the words are spelled out.   I taped the blue matte (11×17 frame with a 8×10 opening) using double sided tape onto the matte board with the letters.  Assemble the matte into the frame, and that’s it.  This craft should take an hour or so.

Materials

  • matte board or foam board (cream matte board) in a colour you like
  • scrabble tiles
  • glue gun/glue sticks
  • shadowbox frame
  • double sided tape
  • matte (blue in the example) sized to fit the frame

Happy Family Day, and happy crafting.