Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Get a Job

It happens to the best of us. The Us I am speaking of are entrepreneurs. That said, I think this story applies to most people, not just the crazy business owners of the world.
So here's how it goes...
I realized this week that I don't like my job anymore. Gasp.
No, I am not putting the cookie biz up for sale. I love my business, love my cookies, love my staff, love everything - except my job.

On my way up to work this week I realized that I have an office job now. I sit at my desk. I send and answer emails, make phone calls, send faxes, order cardboard boxes and chocolate chips, and swear at my printer. It has been a slow progression to this point, but was solidified after I lost ALL MY STAFF at the end of August. No, I am not a slave driver, and yes, it is a whole other story that I will share very soon.
When I had the crazy staff turnover this summer, I lost both my office manager and production manager. These were the two roles that held down the fort of the business and allowed me to have the freedom to do what I wanted (mostly) within my position of New Moon's Chief. Funnily enough, I remember there being a lot of desk and computer time back then too where I was just wasting time and puttering and stressing about sales and growth and how the heck was I going to take next steps, and what were they anyway? But back then I had people taking care of all of my daily operations so I didn't think too much about things. I thought I was coasting.
Then all those people quit in one fell swoop within a month period, and there I was starting from scratch again. I had to cover all the tasks that both those managers were doing, plus train a whole new staff, plus I had a five month-old baby. It was an act of magic, and now that I'm through it I can honestly say it was one of the best things that has ever happened for my business.
But - I am still sitting at that desk.
That desk.
My desk.
Stationary, except for when one of the bakers needs my guidance, or I have to taste test something, or point out a dust bunny.

This was never the career that I wanted. I made a distinct choice to commit to my business so that it could be a vehicle for my creativity and self-growth.

There is a small story in this beautiful book called The Book of Embraces by Eduardo Galeano about a hamster that is caged its whole life and when the cage is finally opened, it huddles in the back for fear of freedom.
That is why I sit at my desk. That is why I have elaborate and stubborn ideas in my mind about how "no one could possibly do this task" because only I could decode the magic of filling a box with cookies, or pasting UPS stickers properly, or taking an order from that finnicky customer.
These are lies. Tricks. Things I convince myself of instead of pushing the envelopes within myself that have been glued shut for way too long.

If you are an entrepreneur and happen to be reading this, I highly recommend reading a book called The E-Myth which is all about this conundrum that we get ourselves into: the brave and fearless entrepreneur who ends up being a technician in their business.
I don't want to be a technician anymore. No, I want to feel the blood flowing again, the creative juice in my veins, and my heart pumping with excitement. That is what being an entrepreneur is all about.

Would you like to know what career I want?
I want to be the Ambassador for my business. I want to travel with it, make connections, and keep building a network with other inspiring entrepreneurs.

I want to write books: a cookbook, a book about starting and running your own business, and a memoir about postpartum depression and my cracking open into motherhood.

I want to pick up my guitar again and sing.

I want to keep growing my business and creating great jobs for people. Did you hear Canada Post is cutting 8000 jobs? It is a privilege to own a business and to be an employer, and I will keep on doing it.

So no, I am not a baker. Not a cookie packer. Not an order picker or a delivery person. I am not the office manager or the production manager. I'm also not the graphic designer (yeah, my designer should ban me from Illustrator). I'm not the lady behind the scenes.

I'm the face of my business and the leader of my life.
How's that epiphany for a Wednesday night?

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Welcome to the County

Listen. I want to tell you a story.
A crazy thing happened this summer: I fell in love. Now before you get excited about this married mother of two falling in love, let me tell you that I fell in love with a place.
Sometime in June, probably when it started to get hot in the city and that all-too-familiar feeling of concrete claustrophobia creeped in, I reached out to friends of ours that live in Prince Edward County and crossed my fingers that inviting my family of four to their farmhouse would be accepted. It was. And we went.
When we first arrived to their place, looking all hungover I'm sure from our chaotic life here, the first thing I said to our hostess was, "so what do you guys DO around here?" she shrugged, somewhat dismissive, and said "I don't know, lots of stuff."
We spent three days at their beautiful home, swam in their pond out back, ate elk burgers, had a fish fry on the beach, reveled at our toddlers and how well they got along, ran into James Taylor's son in town, made up a crazy song or two, and laughed more than I had in a long time. On the Sunday morning before we were leaving, I strapped the baby in the carrier and went on a walk down a country road by myself. I saw two houses for sale. Before we left we went into both of those houses, and the next night, when we were back in Toronto, we put an offer in on the one across the road from our friends.
I thought we were just going to hang with our friends for the weekend and escape city life. There hadn't been any discussion of buying a property in the country. But we fell in love. And love makes you do crazy things.
We didn't get that house we put the offer on. It was heartbreaking but like all things that fall through, something better came along and we jumped on it during the most chaotic week of the summer, when I was sure my life was falling off its hinges. In a dramatic sweep of change with bank loan denials and all my staff quitting (yeah, that's a whole other story) and the money falling through and time almost running out but the whole thing coming together in the end, we bought a piece of land in Prince Edward County. Land. A sweet little house. A funky old barn. A stretch of green that my little boy and girl can run in. A perfect escape. A home that lights my heart with warmth and contentedness.

Do you want to know what I learned? Here it is...
Brian and I hadn't been talking about buying a property in the country, but we had been deeply questioning our lifestyle and our reasons for working hard and the madness of the daily grind. We'd been living next door to a now year-and-a-half-in demolition reno that has upset our home life tremendously (newborns and renos do not go together well) and hadn't had a sense of comfort or peace in a long time. I knew our dissatisfaction would make us hunt for peace of mind, whether we liked it or not.
This is how intention works. Intention is like sending a telegram to the Universe - one day it arrives and you get dialed in. On that magical weekend, we were dialed in. We were woken up by our own dream and it was time to act.
When dreams come calling, it's a beautiful thing. It's also messy and chaotic and usually has me flying by the seat of my pants. But I now firmly believe that we are meant to live on the edge of our seats. That's when the telegrams to the universe get a direct flight.

We took possession of our land on September 30th. We are just a month in and already everything feels it has changed, or at the very least has a new purpose.
As we were driving home today on the Loyalist Parkway (which is a drive that soothes my soul) I realized it would be tempting to say that purchasing our land is the last piece of a puzzle, but it's not that; the puzzle is ongoing and will keep me guessing and growing for the rest of my life. However, we found the piece that fits with a bunch of the ones that were lying disconnected and turned over. The County is the piece that connected all those other pieces, and now I am starting to see a picture forming.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Happy Father's Day

   It's a humid Sunday afternoon, Father's Day. This morning at our favourite coffee spot (and community hub) I watched as different men came in, got in line, and wished each other a Happy Father's Day. I saw the pride in Brian's face as he accepted and gave the greeting.
   I wanted to hug them all, all those men, and congratulate them for being such incredible fathers. It's obvious to me that Father's Day gets a different kind of attention than Mother's Day, mostly because men (um, er) aren't typically the doters or important-day rememberers (come on, I'm allowed to say that) like women are. But there is something else to this day, at least for me and for scores of people I know. I am surrounded by good, caring, playful, present fathers. This wasn't the kind of father I knew or had, this wasn't a seemingly popular role for fathers with the kids I knew growing up. Meeting a real dad was like meeting a king or celebrity.
   In our home, Brian takes the lead as the more nurturing parent, and I can admit that. I learn from him how to be patient and playful and generous. Times are really changing, and we get to be more ourselves instead of what a gender stereotype dictates.
   I believe that our parents parent us even in the ways they are absent. For example, not having a solid attachment with my dad made me seek fathering in many different (and harmful) ways in order to fill the gaps. I adored my father with vehemence. It was a bruised love between he and I, one that healed after I left home, but truly came to fruition when he was dying.
   Why are parents not around? Not because they don't love, but mostly because they hurt or they don't know, or because personal issues prevail.

   Father's Day is bittersweet for me; I miss my dad so much. I wish he could have met my kids, I wish they could have known him even a little bit. I see some of him in Cedar, and it warms my heart. I have also longed for his calm, collected way of bringing me down a notch - I could use this most days lately as I navigate parenthood.

   There is this prayer, this honouring, that is spoken whenever entering or exiting a sweat lodge for ceremony, and it is: for all my relations. The sentiment behind this being that when you heal, you affect the seven generations before and the seven generations ahead of you. There is no separation or time divide when it comes to love and healing and family. How I make sense of this in my world is by witnessing my son have a father like Brian - who wakes with him every morning, reads, cares, educates, loves, spends endless time with, protects and plays with him. So although my father didn't provide most of that for me, knowing that Cedar has it bridges the gap. This is called healing a family spiral, and in my eyes there is no greater work for us to do here.

Happy Father's Day, Brian, you are the best. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there who are changing the old story. And Happy Father's Day to my dad, who would have wanted to sit in his garden today, drinking a beer, reading a good book and offering a scratchy moustache-kiss to each off his offspring.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Happy Mother's Day

One of my best friends is about to have a baby. It is her first, and she is due in the next month or so. She had her baby shower on the weekend and her request from the women she invited was for each of us to share some wisdom or advice about raising kids or being moms. I've been chewing on the request for a few days now, and thinking "what would I have told myself? What would have been the best advice?" So here goes, a truthful mustering about motherhood that I wish someone could have told me. Although, like all things real and gritty and life-changing, you have to go through them to know them.

Dear Self,

As you are about to become a mother, there are some things you ought to know. I realize you may not remember all of what I am about to say, especially in the middle of the night when you are rocking a fussy baby and are exhausted and frustrated and think your life is over, but hopefully these words will find you when you can't see through the small moments.
You are about to change. And I mean, really change. You are about to lose a self that you thought you were only to find someone bigger, softer, stronger, angrier, and more giving than the self you are now. You are about to birth, not just this small human who will be your son or daughter, but also this new self of you, and it may take some time to get used to both.
Motherhood will ask you to change. It will ask you to put aside a lot of the shit that you thought was so important in order to do what needs to be done and just be present. You will look different. Your body will change. Try to love this new body: honour it and comfort it and give it what it needs. Your body is now someone else's home for a while and even as your children grow, you will be the shore for them. Always. Your heart will break again and again, and it will keep breaking because it needs to get bigger and it needs to open and expand to hold the love that you have for this child, but also the love you will need to have for yourself.This bigger love will make you see the child in everyone, even in people you think are assholes. You will somehow come to love the assholes because you know that even they have mothers.
You are about to be stripped down to who you really are and who you are meant to be. This might feel very confusing because you'll think you have lost yourself for a good, long while, but really you are becoming, and that takes time. While hanging in limbo, have faith that you will find yourself again and whoever she is will be awesome.
Your kid will sculpt you. This can really suck, but is ultimately good. They will sculpt you into the parent they need you to be. Let them be the teacher.
Most importantly, who you are is exactly who you need to be for your kid. Show Your truth. You don't have to be something you're not. Motherhood is your expression. Let it be messy, let it still be your life, and never sacrifice your needs and the things which keep you happy.
You will find the dark places in yourself. Babies and kids seem to expose this to us. Let those dark
moments be like soil: rich and earthy and holding space for something to grow. The anger comes because you want control, you want to be alone, you want to run away, you don't want to do the work, your kid is driving you crazy, you feel trapped, you need a break, you just can't take another second.  All of this is okay, and all of this is natural. Ask for help from the people around you. They want to help.
A lot of people say that "your life is over" when you have kids. Who are these people and why did they give up? You are starting a new chapter and it will enrich and feed you like nothing else has.
You are about to truly become hardcore, in the softest way.

But the key is this: find the moms. They're often in coffee shops and parks. They all have iPhones and use them religiously. Talk to them, befriend them. This is your new hive. These women, even in very brief moments or words, will be the backbone you can count on and they will count on you. Be honest with them; share your strife. Build your village.
Welcome to the greatest journey of your life.

Linking up with Selena over at le petit reve. '#RealMamaLife - Motherhood Uncensored.' >Find this weeks edition here

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Having It All?

BlogTO just wrote a piece about New Moon (and me) as a featured look behind the scenes at our cookie factory. I must say, getting this jolt of PR while cradling a 5 week-old baby felt pretty awesome, and I am so grateful that they came for a visit.
The article got me thinking though, about how we are creating, within our zillion media outlets, this superwoman power-mama who can do it all and it is oh-so-easy. 

Since having Frankie (baby number two! A girl!) I've noticed a few women comment that I make it look easy, and while it's nice to hear a compliment, I also want to grab that woman's hand and say, "Lady, this is the hardest thing I have ever done."
I often compare myself to that mythical woman; the one who seems to pull it off without breaking a sweat. Although many, many women pull off incredible feats of multi-tasking and having the all, it doesn't mean we should feel we have to, or that the new norm means wearing as many hats as possible in order to feel whole.
In an attempt to debunk a myth, I'd like to share My Having It All with you.
Here is what I have:
- I have an incredibly short attention span and often look like an iguana tracking flies. I attribute this to the complete splicing of my life right now, and the compulsion to get everything done and maintain some small sense of having-it-together. In order to accomplish this I am always doing at least two tasks at once. Like: peeing and texting or eating and folding laundry.
- I have two kids. One of them is a rambunctious, spirited two-and-a-half year-old who is my favourite person in the world and also someone who likes to tear, throw, or break all my shit and is also prone to hitting other children which really helps my social standing.
My other kid is only six weeks old, but judging by her nighttime screaming I think she may be spirited as well. In other words, my ego lies crumpled on the floor.
- I have a cookie business that I am supposed to be running, but these days it feels more like a staggered jog.
- I have a home in Roncesvalles Village. It is awesome and also very messy. There is a kids' bike in the hallway and a utility closet I yell at whenever I have to go in there to get a roll of toilet paper and things like votive candle holders from our wedding four years ago fall out and smash at my feet.
- I have a couple postpartum issues right now, one which I am going to spare you the details of and the other a condition called vasospasm whereby I get pins and needles in my nipples. It hurts. As my friend who also had it said, "it's worse than my craziest night of sex ever."
- I also have a crazy temper these days, which I blame on the hormones, but let's just say that I have been punching pillows a lot and last week my husband caught me about to throw a book against the wall. The book was Guerrilla Marketing; perhaps I should read it instead of throw it. 

I used this analogy after having that Cedar that my time felt more like snacks than a meal. Now with two kids it's like eating snacks really, really fast. So fast that you don't chew them and end up choking on a piece of carrot or something.
It's kind of maddening in the moment, but in the greater perspective it is beautiful to be at the mercy of life these days: to be a tangled mess, to wear the same pants for four weeks straight, to eat a dirty apple off the ground because I am hungry and could care less, to make a playdough couch first thing in the morning with my son before even having a bite of food or taking a pee. To be such a rundown, emotional version of myself: more raw and real than I have ever felt.

I guess what I am trying to say is that having-it-all (career and family) is not exactly pretty. At least not for me. There is so much push-pull around wanting to be at home but needing to work, and also wanting to work and get space from my kids. I feel like I am doing a crappy half-assed version of everything right now, and that's only because my expectations are set way, way too high.
It's a paradox, and yet I am trying to satisfy all the parts of me that need food - even if they are just snacks for now.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Into the Great Wide Open

It is a peculiar thing to be waiting on a baby. It is even more peculiar to assign a human being a due date, or to feel that one is "late" once this date approaches and the baby is a no-show. Clearly, I am a few days past one of these due dates, as they are called.
Although people are assuming I am chomping at the bit, I am quite happy to sit here in this gap of time wherein a baby could come at any second, or not, so therefore I have nothing to do but just tinker around.
It is a pause and I am thankful for it. There haven't been too many pause moments throughout this pregnancy; it's been a GO marathon. In fact, there haven't been too many pause moments since Cedar was born. Nope. Self-reflection is now available when I am driving to work or washing the dishes, or waking up at 4am to pee and all these thoughts barrel in when I should be sleeping.

It is quite a thing to become a mother. It's a popular rumour that a woman is changed forever, or loses her self, or won't get her life back, or that her days will be punctuated and spelled out by self-sacrifice. Definitely, there was the loss of self - a certain self. And definitely life changed, and most certainly I had to make a lot of room for someone else. And honestly, I had/have to do a whole ton of things I don't want to do. Those changes all seem obvious at this point. But there is something else, and I think it is the something that doesn't get talked about all too often. It is about who replaces that lost self: the mother. You may think of her as frumpy or forgotten or messy, but she is just about the sexiest creature I have ever met. This woman is covered in life's everyday messes and still manages to crack smiles, get food on the table, and do that freakin' fish puzzle with her kid for the thousandth time. She is vibrant and soulful, gets angry, gets soft, finds happiness in the tiniest little simple things, and loses her shit completely at least a couple times a week but recovers like a champ.
I have met, and become close with, and admired many of these women since I had Cedar. I think it is even fair to say that I have become one of them. It's a righteous club. More hardcore than anything I've ever done before.
So here is this pause, this abyss before I give birth to my second (and last) baby. Today I imagined myself driving on a highway in Phoenix, Arizona that I have taken many times. It boasts a perfect horizon, one you can really see and feel as it approaches. I was picturing this road and thinking about the whole idea of coming to the edge. See - I've always imagined the edge as a cliff, one you are supposed to jump off of. That idea of jumping off has never fit with me. I mean, I get it, but why would I just go and jump off a cliff? It occurred to me that the edge is simply a place I haven't been to before. It is that point on the road that is new and unknown and scares me. There is no jumping required - just the will to go forward, to explore, to be present. I am here now inside this edge.
I don't know any other way to say it except that I want to be free. This moment here is not just about having a baby, but of birthing myself again into this next incarnation. I am not a maiden becoming a mother, about to be devastated by the loss of ego. Now I am a mother birthing my new self.
I see this as an opportunity to choose the form that my life takes after things settle down on the home front. I've been mulling over and dreaming up all kinds of things for a couple years now, simply waiting for the time and energy and personal juju that could bring it all together.
It has become clear to me how much I do because I think I have to, or because it is my duty or obligation, or because if I don't do it, who will? Could it be possible to live life as if everything were a choice? What would that feel like? What would change? I have the sense that it would change everything. This is what I am sitting here with in the abyss; the chance to let it all go. Begin anew. Turn the corner. Find the new edges and valleys and twists that are all part of this crazy journey.

Well, Little One in utero. Thanks for giving me a few days to figure all this shit out. You can come out now.