It’s inspiring to watch someone realize a dream, more so when that person is your friend.
So I was excited to see Onelight‘s gig in Gastown on Saturday night, since the vocalist and keyboardist is Amy, a fellow mom I used to huddle beside while waiting to pick our children up from Kindergarten.
Back then, four years ago, when we chatted about how little we had accomplished while the kids were at school, my list went something like “I did laundry but didn’t get around to folding it”; and hers went, “I wrote music.”
I was amazed and humbled at the dichotomy between our answers. From then on, I invented more imaginative chores and threw in some volunteer work, but Amy’s answer remained steadfast. Making music was her dream.
Watching her up on stage, singing and playing keyboard and clearly in her element, was incredible. It was inspiration and hope and perseverance and courage all rolled into one moment. Aside from being a fantastic listening experience, it made me wonder what else I could accomplish during the day. It was a nudge towards grabbing life, like Amy has, and getting what you want from it.
The music of Onelight, is far more layered and richer than I thought possible from the duo of Amy and her music partner, Hamish. It had a mystical quality to it, a cadence of thoughtfulness, and an unmistakeable originality. Two talented musicians intent on making their distinctive imprint on music for our listening pleasure.
As they embark on a tour of India, and Amy sails off into the wide world of music and the many opportunities her talents will bring, I will listen to her lyrical, lovely voice, fold my laundry, and then get on with pursuing my dreams.
It turns out there are three ways to remove an IUD. The traditional method is for your GP to take it out during a routine visit. I’ve also known some women to yank them out themselves, presumably because they couldn’t be bothered to make an appointment for such child’s play. Then there is a slim percentage of women who must have them surgically removed by a gynecologist.
Me being me, it was no surprise that I recently fell into this last category.
I kept telling myself it’s no big deal. So it took a few appointments with different doctors intent on hooking a fish in the form of my IUD, using various forms of bait, while I revisited the feelings of labours past. So there was another month of waiting to see a gynecologist in her office, while she had a go at landing her fish, and she could show those GP’s who’s boss. So there was a day of fasting, a morning of waiting in the hospital, drugs in the form of suppositories and IV’s, the tiny inconvenience of getting my busy husband to show up in the middle of a workday to escort me home.
Okay, it was a little unfortunate, but not entirely without its highlights.
As I sat uncomfortably close to and inexplicably amongst senior citizens waiting for cataract surgery, I pretended to read my book. Beside me, a daughter argued with her elderly mother. The daughter was urging her mother to only dwell on the good things that happened in her life, but her mother replied, in her thick German accent, that there wasn’t much of those to go on, which promptly shut the daughter up, and the rest of us silently cheered.
I breathed patient breaths and tried not to think of the things I could be accomplishing while the minutes dragged into hours, the cataract patients came and went, and the nursing staff changed shifts. Finally they called my name, and lead me into an operating room, almost entirely covered in blue gauze save for the gleaming silver stirrups.
We made small talk while the nurse stuck little round things on my torso, and my doctor put an IV in my arm. They told me the things I’m looking at might appear to start floating, so I could have a little nap if I wanted. But there was no way I was going to miss floating light fixtures. As I stared intently at the one above me, waiting for it to dislodge from the ceiling, that tingly feeling I get halfway through a glass of champagne arrived in my limbs and nevermind the fixtures; I was floating.
I remember talking, and was shocked to hear my slurred words. I slowed my speech and tried to carefully form the words so that I might appear coherent, in the same way I had in high school after a dance. “WHAT – IS – IN – THIS – IV?” There was laughter from my nether regions, and they rambled off some medications which I clearly remember as being blah blah blah mixed with blah blah blah. Whatever it was, I understood in that moment how great it feels to be high.
I’m still anti-drugs, make no mistake, but just like every rose has its thorns, every cloud has its silver lining. Perception is everything.
Most of us don’t live with extended family in our homes like our ancestors of yesterday. Our houses or apartments aren’t bursting with in-laws and grandparents, uncles and aunts are not on the other side of the thin wall. Chaotic family dinners are not a nightly occurrence, but reserved for Thanksgiving and special birthdays.
Although we don’t have to listen to our mother-in-law drone on about her gravy everyday, she isn’t around to make chocolate chip cookies, either. Or to hold our infant when our two-year old falls off the swing. Or to babysit for that far too occasional date-night.
I live on the opposite coast of Canada from my family, and my in-laws are an hour’s drive away. Raising three children, there have been times when I could have used that village, but it wasn’t physically there. The miles were gaping, and I was my own island.
At first, it was lonely. Used to the buzz of an office filled with co-workers, I missed adult interaction. But slowly and steadily, I met other mothers with infants, and we bonded over chitchat of breastfeeding and stain removal. My mom friends advised me where to find the best highchairs and how to soothe my baby to sleep. They taught me how to use sign language before my child could speak, advised which laundry detergent to try when skin rashes arose.
My mom friends walked me through first playdates, and took my toddler to swimming lessons when I had another baby to care for. When I miscarried, they brought dinners and muffins while I sat on the sofa and cried. Sometimes, the only time I would speak with an adult during daylight hours was at the doorstep of my daughters playdates, where we would discuss drop off and pick up times, and then discuss life. Those five minutes made a big difference in my day.
My mom friends have morphed and changed overtime, as children move schools and choose other best friends and different activities. Now, my children are in school and involved in sports. Since it’s hard to be in three places at the same time, my mom friends arrange carpools and cheer on my kids when I can’t be there. They tell me who is doing what on the playground according to the rumour mill. They are the eyes that are watching one of my kids when my own eyes are across town watching another. They have my back.
It still takes a village to raise a child, and my village consists of my husband, myself, and my mom friends. By this point in time, of course, my mom friends have become, simply, my friends. We get together for hikes, family dinners, and sit side by side at assemblies (and soon, graduation). We volunteer in rain, snow, sleet and, less frequently, sunshine. We huddle together and shudder at the thought of high school and the teenage years. We have been known to party.
It’s not always easy being a parent, but my friends make my life both easier, and so much richer. My village doesn’t live underneath one roof, but rather is scattered in different pockets along the North Shore, an extended Block Watch from days past. When my own two arms are not enough to hold what needs holding, I have others outstretched behind me, catching what falls through the cracks. And luckily for me, my village loves to dance.
Here’s to my village; I couldn’t do this without you.
Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.
It’s Motivational Monday, and today I’m profiling Danielle Connelly, a wonderful person I have recently met who tries to help other moms find the best deals in town. She has turned this idea into a successful, growing business. I was inspired by her great story, and hope you will be, too.
When her boys were little, Danielle Connelly started a blog designed to do what is chief on many young mothers minds: save money. What began as a small hobby has turned into a fast growing business four years later. Her website, www.motherofadeal.com, is a virtual treasure trove of deals that appeal to parents.
Here is her recipe for success: take a great idea (saving money), add some knowledge and hard work, and be at the right place at the right time.
Shortly after starting her blog, she had gone to a momcafe event – another growing enterprise where mothers spend a morning networking and listening to inspiring speakers. On this morning, a woman spoke about a self employment program at Douglas College. If you had been on maternity leave within the last five years and fit the eligibility requirements, you could actually get paid to attend this program through Service Canada.
The program is offered through many post-secondary institutions across the country, and is a perfect way of launching your own business, while getting support from like-minded and entrepreneurial instructors.
Inspired by the idea of working for herself, Danielle promptly enrolled in this program. It set the wheels in motion, turning her blog into a growing business.
She is undeniably a busy woman, her boys now four and six years old, but they are some of her biggest supporters. They occasionally help out at family trade shows, and her youngest will blurt out to strangers that his mother does Mother of a Deal.
It’s an ongoing exercise trying to be both a great mother and run a successful business from her house, she says. Setting boundaries has been a key element to keeping the occasional resentment her children show at bay. “Are you doing work stuff, mom?” they will ask. But she tries to make Mother of a Deal a shared experience for her family, and one they will hopefully benefit from as they grow.
Like any small business owner, Danielle has faced adversity along the way, but her online community has been overwhelmingly supportive. In 2009, her father passed away, and she decided to give up on her site to focus on her family. When she shared what she was going through with her subscribers, she experienced a huge outpouring of love from mothers, most of whom she had never met. Somehow, her site stayed strong through this tough time and continued to grow. She believes her father had a hand in this – he was so proud of her drive and determination to succeed. He continues to inspire her everyday, she says.
She has big goals for next year, when her boys are both in school full-time. She plans on making some changes to her site to make it a more interactive experience, and is hoping to attract more subscribers.
With the end goal of helping people help themselves, and the phenomenal success of other money saving websites like Groupon, Mother of a Deal seems like a mother of an invention.