Category Archives: Mompreneurs

Tips for working moms of all types.
You are already stretched to the max…so maybe we can share our ideas on how to make it a little less challenging??

Deconstructing fear

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Deconstructing fear

mlk-fear-quoteIt has been exactly one year and 12 days since my very first (and only) ever anxiety attack. There it is. Out there. Yep. I lost it, big time! You may judge away, but there is something big to be gained by the universe slapping its hand across your cheek so profoundly saying “Snap the F*%k out of it! This is not where you need to be.” Yet now, even 377 days into the recovery of my body and mind, I am left with the sense that once you cross the line of exposing your body to extreme stress, it is very, very difficult to get yourself entirely back across again.

It was awesome (powerful awesome, not good-time awesome). I recall gasping like a fish out of water with no ability to take a full, deep tidal breath. I know breathing. It’s my career. This was overpowering and all-consuming with cardiac impact and a sweet shot of adrenalin to shake me through the aftermath. My dear colleague talked me through it, asking if we needed to walk the 50 metres down the hallway to the ER. I refused to be seen by co-workers in a state of complete lack of control. I remember a dear voice across the room saying out loud “Christy, this is insane. You need to walk away from this.” Sometimes, the challenge is not the work in front of us, but in the walking away and letting go. Seated on a comfy, reflective couch 2 months later I found the causation explanation I was so desperate for. Sometimes our deepest fears pop up like whack -a-moles in our daily lives. The foundation of our coping is shattered by a side-impact, unexpected.

But this story is not about cause, it is about affect…because that is how I am left. Affected. Where I once felt great satisfaction in accomplishing multiple tasks on a busy afternoon between racing to taxi around small family members, I am now unexpectedly left fluttering, nauseous and distracted. There is a new baseline. A new me. More reflective yet more fragile. More wise, yet more wary. There is no way of going back.

Involuntary change is challenging regardless of the intensity and impact to our lives. Change casts the shadow of our underlying fears. Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of being unworthy. So much fear underlying so many of our everyday actions and always, always hidden in our words. There are so many things to be afraid of and we learn of many of them very young. Born bold, resilient and spontaneous, we learn hesitation, humiliation and loss as they pound us and shape our bodies into our adult forms. What we may not fully realize is that these sculptures of self are still pliable after all these long years. Call it personal growth, call it neuroplasticity, call it a mid-life crisis if you will. We know that there is more to do and more to be because we feel in our core that glimmer of radiant light that is wonder. We remember bold. We remember feeling so light and unencumbered.

My steel tight grasp on my path through life has been wrenched free, leaving a void where there was once surety. I have a new normal and weave this into my family’s everyday lives as best I can with the skills of grounding, calm, meditation, and self-preservation. Some days, that is enough. This week, I struggle to breathe…to cope and move forward without collapsing into a teary mess.  I continue to unearth and deconstruct my fears as I struggle to accept that there really is no version of me that I will get back. There is only the me that I will become.

CB

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Snow and ice

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snowfalke

I have been so intensely disappointed with how we live our daily lives lately. Likely potentiated by Christmas, a season I used to revel in for its abundance and over-the-top attempts at spreading love and cheer. We never really accomplish this en masse. The experience always falls short of my expectations. I walk around this year feeling slightly numb. Observing toys and gifts and junk and stuff and plastic and I feel almost sick. I don’t want any of it. I want it to go away. Where there always had been snow for me at Christmas, now there is only ice.

The challenge to growth and change comes when you are faced with beating familiar habit back with a bat. Hand to hand combat with who I think I should be. How I should interact with the world around me. How I should work. How I should play. How I should exist. This last year has brought many internal battles, some lost in shock and others won in the throes of sobs of understanding. I find myself conflicted in feeling both release for shirking old weighted expectations and loss for what is familiar and gratifying. How do I reshape what I know, who I am and be content? The puzzle pieces fit together, yet the picture doesn’t make any sense.

I have a different yearning this winter season for revelation and simplicity. For purity and clean. My heart feels a bit broken and no one seems to have the right glue stocked on their shelves. I’m superficially hoping this could just be some form of seasonal affective disorder. SAD would be fitting… the rain in Vancouver has been oppressive this year. Yet this haunting feeling resounds deeper than that and I will need to dig deep and wide to find a way out. Feathers need to be rustled, boundaries need to be broken and I will have to force the solution into existence.

It’s so easy just to expect the world to change around us. So careless. So childish. I am tired of hate. I am tired of apathy. I am so very exhausted by greed.

I need more to sustain me. It all just feels like total bullshit and I see right through it this year. Throw some more glitter and varnish on it if you like, it will be all in vain. I’m not buying.

So, if anyone has any ideas, I am all ears. My feelers are out, I am on the lookout for love. I am frantic for some shred of hope because I decided to have children and I am desperate for a way to look them in the eyes and say “This is a good place and I am proud to show you around.” and do so with sincerity. For the joy and love in their hearts is still bright. Their eyes glimmering as if they play out their days inside a glittering snow globe. Floating. Light, soft and pure.

CB

Picking up the Pieces

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Tree of light

Sometimes, you just aren’t ready for the lessons that life has in store for you. Head down, focused on your daily struggles or eyes focused on a prize that is not meant for you…and BAM! The universe reveals itself, huge palm to your face, and says “Hello there Blondie, don’t go this way! ” My lesson came swift and smothering, like a slap and then a pillow to the face. No time to scream, kick or flail. Inner trauma requiring a complete halt of everything I knew to be me. This lesson will change my life course dramatically. But isn’t that what lessons are about? Isn’t that why we are here? To experience pain, joy, love, fear and discover, through these events, who we are at our core. To reveal our essence. To break and then re-build, with love.

I am a health care worker, to be specific, a Respiratory Therapist. Or, at least I thought that was who I was. My work had become my identity, the vibrance and force behind my vitality. Then, for reasons I cannot disclose, my work was taken away from me.  My sustenance withdrawn, a struggle ensued. It was messy, it was exhausting. Mud flew and I fell to my knees in exhaustion. I believe that I only survived because of my support system and because I found an amazing guide to help me make sense of this unfairness, this trauma, this… lesson. My guide broke me down into 4 pieces. My body, my Ego, my spirit and my soul. (If you had met my Ego, you would understand why he gets capitalized!) In complete disharmony, my work was to reveal these pieces, understand them, find them balance and set them free.

How can a helper and healer survive if she cannot help? The love that I felt for and from my patients, their families and my co-workers was a connection to my purpose and fuelled my soul (Well, hello Ego!). This energy was a force for my survival. So taken away,  I found myself adrift and utterly lost. My Ego was horrified, scrambling to find me some source of love and vitality. So I went deeper, found my soul and saw…the light within. This light was deep buried and like hauling an iron bucket up from the deepest of wells, I work daily to keep it in sight. My soul resides in this well, with walls built thick and dark and wet around it. My life’s work is to break down these walls brick by brick and lift this bucket up for all to see.

I see now that caring for others is not my destiny. It is my destiny to love. But first, I must love myself. I had lost all respect for my body, running it to exhaustion until my heart literally warned me of the danger of this path. Respect for the body, the mind and the soul must come before all else. Only then can we turn this love outward and be free.

Four hard months of caring for and healing my body, revealing my Ego, discovering my spirit and reveling in the light and clarity of my soul. These are the gifts of this life lesson.

I will tell you what I have learned, but know that each of us is on a unique journey and no one story is the same. Your answers will come on your own time. (Have you ever found a book at exactly the right time for reading it? Not made sense of something the first time you experience it but then had a wicked ‘A-ha’ moment at a later date?) I know that every day we can either make decisions – rational thoughts weighing in on pros and cons – or we can make choices. Choices come from our soul, our heart and often feel like intuition. In the words of my favorite guide, “Analysis is paralysis.” To experience your path, you need to feel your way through it. Close your eyes to reason and use your heart to know the answer.

“If experience is viewed in a certain way, it presents nothing but doorways into the domain of the soul.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

It is our perception of every person, place or thing that determines our reaction. We ourselves make meaning in every interaction. A person full of hate can remain so in your mind and be justified, or they can become understood as a fearful child who trusts no one…not even themselves… so resulting in the need to control everything around them and being terrified of human connection. This perception shift requires empathy and as such is challenging for most as it places our own nature under the microscope for review. (What… me? But I’m perfect!)

I am unbelievably grateful for the circumstances that caused me so much pain and confusion…resulting in growth, creation and love. In this, I found forgiveness. The pieces of me that fell shattered, once put back together, no longer form the same person. New boundaries around self care and family have been set. New priorities revealed. A new lens through which I witness sources of love and joy that have been there all along, patiently waiting for me to find them.

Will I remain in health care? Yes, in some form or another, as I have a passion for education and healing. The context is irrelevant. In today’s acute health care, there are limitations that my morals and values will never agree with. (Putting it politely!) My heart speaks to driving change but not at the sacrifice of self-care. My patients deserve the best. Caring at all levels – emotional, mental and spiritual as well as medical. Care without love is not healing, regardless of how much we would like it to be so. To love in our care is much harder work…but as I now know, the work of love gives back 100 times more, letting the pieces come together. Letting our stories weave together. A tapestry of hope, joy and peace.

-CB

 

 

In the Mouth of Madness – The Work of a Respiratory Therapist

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Respiratory Therapy

Every day that you breathe comfortably is a gift. This, I say with absolute surety, after 14 years as a critical care Respiratory Therapist.  Every hour you live is a chance to learn something; not a fact or a skill, because these are too tangible, too easy to grasp. No, every day is a chance to learn one more thing about human connection and an opportunity to explore the boundaries set for us by our limitations and our fears.

Flash back 10 years ago to the critical care bedside of a tiny infant, connected to my life-supporting equipment. It is my job, on this day, to be in this room, at this moment and to press that button; Yes, THAT button. The button that turns off a machine that made it look like this baby was taking its own breaths. I’m not alone. On this day there is a doctor with me and a nurse nearby outside the door. But it feels like I am alone because no one is making eye contact. No one is saying out loud what I am screaming inside, “Dear God, this is breaking my heart.”  But really, I am glad it is me. This way, I can be so absolutely gentle and kind, yet swift when I remove the tube from her mouth. This way, I get to say goodbye as well before I quietly leave the room.

Nothing could have prepared us for this. There was no didactic course on terminal weaning babies or palliative withdrawal of life support on patients that look and sound exactly like my grandmother. And so, we learn as we go, pushing the boundaries of our fears and sending out ‘feelers’ into our psyche to probe a dark emotion that we were never trained to recognize. We can sustain life beyond expectations but were not taught to embrace death.

As I sat with an elderly gentlemen in an ER at 4am a few years ago, I finally started to unravel this tangle of emotions that reared its head repeatedly.  I withdrew a BiPAP mask and then watched caregivers duck back away behind curtains. Pieces of the puzzle fell into place. We are healers. We fix people. We pride ourselves in this ability, boastful and resounding. Death is to be overcome! We shall not surrender… but if we do…when we do, we lose purpose. We feel weak. We feel shame. The dark and tangled emotions of failure, fear, vulnerability and shame all blended opaque and smeared across our vision. We can no longer see the person we were caring for without reminder that we were not enough.

So I became enough. Slowly at first but with steady purpose, when there was no family, I became the family. When hands reached out in fear of the unknown, I shrugged off my hesitation and held onto those hands. Fear was overcome by the strength of human connection. In these moments, my practice changed forever and so did I. My rusted old personal boundaries flexed and were broken. Relationships blossomed and life just made more sense. Everything became more real. I have never looked back.

The work of a Respiratory Therapist or any other critical care practitioner is incredibly stressful and exhausting. Finishing a set of 12 hours days and nights, its all we can do to not run out the hospital doors laughing maniacally on our way home screaming ” No one died…it was a great night!” But on those nights when one of our patients does pass away, we can learn so much in reflection. What if we stepped right around our fears and walked boastfully up to death saying “It’s ok that you are here. Let me help you take them kindly”.  Knowing we are enough. Knowing we did our best.

CB

Paying it Back, in Kind

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I am having a bad day. You know, the kind where you wake up annoyed and just can’t seem to snap out of it? Today, I feel like the weight above me is just heavy enough to override the wind beneath me. In other words, I feel down. What’s got me in this funk? Who really knows, but at my best guess, I think I have taken too much on again. I feel like my ‘to-do’ lists are growing wings, levitating off the kitchen island and taking flight for the sole purpose of flapping around my head all day. Like a murder of crows after a chunk of fine flesh, these lists will consume me piece by piece. My mind is always with them, ever-buzzing, never at peace. Today, these lists make me sad. Sad that I cannot seem to muster up enough empathy for myself to just let them die a quiet, pulpy death. If I could only grant myself as much kindness as I could any friend or acquaintance in a tough spot, each day would be that much more free.

Think about the last time you sat with a friend who was hurting or upset. Did you lower your voice? Speak softly to be sure they were really hearing you? Did you use empathy and really try to understand their situation so that you could give an honest outlook? Were you caring and sympathetic? So what if we could use this same kind and consoling manner with ourselves? What if today, I just took 10 minutes to create some compassion for myself, acknowledging my daily struggles and recognizing that I have some choices to make. As any good friend would, I can note that I am doing the very best that I can. I could suggest that I am being a little too hard on myself and expecting too much. Perhaps, expecting more than anyone else ever would.

Self-compassion and empathy would likely allow me to again remember that I am enough. To acknowledge my worth and my value – without all the unnecessary trimmings. I could speak softly and gently, kindly guiding the way. Then, I could let the lists rest like paper should, in a pile, waiting its turn to be dealt with. There are more important things to be done. Like tickling my children to entice their laughter, holding my husband’s hand just to feel his warmth, and twirling around the kitchen to my favorite song. All things guaranteed to lift me up above this hazy fog to clear skies and brighter days.

CB

Art Understanding

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Be brave and show your colors! Source:Ticktacktoeleb.com

Be brave and show your colors!
Source:Ticktacktoeleb.com

I started my second painting class last weekend. I have newly discovered the joy and release of painting using acrylic on canvas. Placing myself with paintbrush in hand in a completely new environment at the age of 36 has been so refreshing. It’s a new way to open up creatively, throw myself off balance and choose to become vulnerable thus learning more about myself in the process. Surprisingly, it has revealed a little more about my parenting style. Painting has shown me that one of the hardest things to achieve as a parent is to let your children experience the world in their own way without introducing any of our own biases or opinions. My work is my interpretation of the world. It can be judged but the critque will not change the facts and emotions behind my experiences. My children deserve the same from me. I should allow them the experience, encourage full artistic licence and make no apologies for what they create.

My class has about 6 participants of all ages and most of us are beginners. This means we are still finding our creative voice and feeling out of place. Still lacking confidence and quick to judge our own work, it is common to hear across the room at any point, “Ooops, I think I did it wrong!”. This statement made me think about how my children approach art. When my son was 2 or 3, he showed his own interpretation of the world in his visual art with no apologies made for colors, shapes or sizes used on his impressions. But once he began to join social groups and hear critiques of his work, he would also begin to judge his artwork. That head on the dinosaur is a bit small or the lake is not the right blue. Outside opinion became influential, so I became aware of my own judgements in this manner. I have to remind myself that art is interpretation and shows glimpses of how we see the world. There is no right or wrong. Expect variety and difference.

Being the recovering perfectionist that I am (see blog post here for details) , I had previously had moments of conflict while helping my children draw or color. I used to look over my children’s works of art and feel a compulsion to add or direct color use. I would even embellish pictures after they completed them! You may have experienced similar compulsions or you may think I am a complete control freak. Either way, we can learn from this ridiculous tendency.

I believe there is great value in teaching our children that their thoughts and impression are valid, regardless of popular opinion. Through art, we can teach that not everyone will agree with what they see and feel, but that does not make their experience any less significant or important. If, as parents, we embrace their works with empathy and share our past experiences of harsh judgement, we can create a strong bond of solidarity and teach shame resilience. We can teach strength, compassion and kindness.

So when someone in my painting class announces they have screwed up….I  like to grab these moments to shout out…. “Not wrong! Just different!”. We usually have a giggle, but it lessens the judgement. It opens up our ability to use different blends of color, paint a sky with a few extra clouds, or sketch a skyline with a few extra peaks. Creative freedom found in a world where we feel constrained and must ‘fit in’. This support of being different helps us to feel conviction in our work and confidence as we press on. Such feelings I would be thrilled to pass on to my own children.

CB

Feeling Frozen? Just let it go…

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Finally freeing the light!
Source: Disney’s ‘Frozen’.

I believe that when you strip me down to the core of my being, there are light things and there are dark things. There are needs and there are wants. I need engagement, connection and to feel a sense of belonging. I need to be able to express how the world affects me, right or wrong, it is my own interpretation. Where the danger and the damage lie, is in the way other humans react and respond to my interpretation. This is where the world changes us. This is how we learn hurt, fear, rejection, and boundless shame. Is it avoidable? Not without massive culture shift. But there is always hope and it lies within, tucked up tight against the light, the dreams, the longing and the voice inside you that is straining to be freed.

When you were little, you heard things that changed you. If you were lucky, and I mean VERY lucky, the words molded you in a way that bound you stronger to your own foundation, working with your light. Shaping its intensity and radiance. If you were not so lucky, you heard words that dimmed your light, taking the surety and strength out of everything you said and did. These words cracked your foundation, crumbling it in a long trail behind you. Maybe the trail is so long that it looks like you could never trace it far back enough to get to the first piece. Your light waned, dimmed and cast shadows throughout you. I remember shadows being so terrifying as a child. They could have me believing in things that did not exist. Feeling terror for no reason. Believing in an untruth.

But I am a grown up now. I can more easily tell truth from lies, light from dark, good from evil. I am still the same child with the same basic needs but my defenses have grown with me whether I know it or not. The fear, rejection, and hurt will always surround me whirling like an invisible snowstorm. But the light inside us has heat. A warmth and a glow that can melt the most frigid of winters. We just can’t be afraid anymore. We need to believe that the light will guide us to the life that we have always longed for. We need to believe with everything that is within us. Our light is unique and beautiful and worthy. The world will know more color and beauty and joy just from witnessing our light.

So take those words that you heard as a child. If they were good, then nurture them, nudge them, and hold them towards your light to receive even more energy and love. If they were bad, gather them from every corner of your head where you can hear them, even the ones scrambling to desperately hide. Wrap them up in both hands. Squeeze them until they are tiny, forming a dark and heavy mass .  Hold them over the edge of a cliff that knows no bottom and just… let them go.

CB

Author’s addendum :February 3rd, 2016.

I revisited this post today after profound personal and professional experiences have forced me into reflection and self-exploration. I have become aware of what my ‘defences’ really looked like from the outside…throwing myself into my career, searching for validation in my work both from the satisfaction of helping others and furthering my profession. If I fed my ego, I would be nourished as well, right?

I have had two more years to witness how my own children have the potential of being so heavily influenced and changed forever by my words of judgement. I must be so much more careful with these beautiful, fragile, spirits. The worst thing I could do would be to dim their light. Because now I understand how hard it is to fight my way back through the dark to reach the light.

CB

 

 

…and I go to sleep counting my blessings.

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▶ White Christmas Count your Blessings – YouTube.

As I lay me down to sleep, I peep cautiously out of one eye to see if my son has his eyes closed yet. He used to be infamous for his poor sleep, but he is 5 and a half now. All grown up and a great sleeper. He has placed himself so that his head is on the same pillow as mine and his nose is only 2 inches away, his breath warm on my chin. His eyes are closed but I know his breathing patterns and he is not asleep yet, or at least not deep enough for me to sneak away.

I have time to let my mind wander and so it will. I think about this week of holidays, family time and celebration. I have nothing to complain about. I have no wants. No needs. My biggest problem this week is embarrassing at best: deciding whether to switch from an iphone to a Samsung. Seriously pathetic.

So I let my mind wander to gratitude, where I know I can always come away feeling refreshed and light. To reach out and embrace my children. To have them want to cuddle and play with me. To have a husband who is engaged, honest, and fun to be with. To have a home that is warm and safe. To go to work and use my skills to help others. These are my Christmas gifts. This is my joy. I allow the soft hush of this realization to resonate and bring a peace to my mind.

Christmas as we know it today has become a reminder of what I do not need. I give thanks for all the marketing and lights and bells and whistles as they blare out a message: “If you are not enough, then we can provide. We have everything you need!” And I laugh at the ridiculousness of the idea. Didn’t we grow up watching the Grinch learn this very lesson every single year, trying to stuff joy and love into bags and steal it? So then, even if we know it in our hearts to be true, we may not be ready to become it. To live it. To allow the message to seep in, take root and grow, changing us permanently as it thrives.

I remember the smile on the Grinch and his heart swelling in anticipation. I lay there and count my blessings as I count my son’s tiny breaths. One by one, smiling as they come.

CB

Whispers of Sanity

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Silence is Golden
Photo source: http://www.influx.com.br

I woke up this morning in a coughing fit. It seems the little people of the house have infected me yet again. I painstakingly extracted myself from the cozy comforter on my daughter’s bed, writhing awkwardly so as not to wake her. My lungs wracking into spasm just as I closed the door behind me. I fell onto the couch and drifted in and out of sleep for another hour, thankful for more energy to get my small people through another day. I barely remember my husband kneeling next to me before he left for work. I think he apologized for his schedule. Sick or not, I was on my own. When my 5 year old woke and came to cuddle with me, I went to greet him quietly but my vocal cords were in full rebellion. Laryngitis. Oh crap.

I tried a few words but was rewarded with hoarse squeaking instead. For a moment I felt panicked. How was I supposed to parent with no voice? How do I compete for ‘air time’ with small, loud people all day? Can I just take a time-out for a day?

Taking a deep breath, I took stock of my tooIs. I thought about what I know of my children.

  1. They are capable of empathy
  2. They are reasonable (when not ruled by their over-dramatic brain regions)
  3. They love small changes in routine
  4. They are really just small adults

We can work this out, right?

So I started by whispering softly and then as the morning progressed, I just kept whispering. Eventually, they noticed the change and asked what was wrong. So I told them today my voice was sore and I needed their help to listen for my whispers.

As the morning progressed, I was thrilled that they quieted when I whispered. Their little heads would tip forward and lean in to hear me. Wow. Would you look at that! The change was sparking their interest.

Later, as we piled into the car, typical moments of tension evolved but I felt removed from them. Knowing that I could not interject, I felt like I was watching a scene unfold in front of me. I am certainly not a perfect parent and will admit to having to raise my voice on occasion but I still regret it every time I do. How unique to find the choice taken from me today. I have to be quiet, observe, connect and whisper today. I can listen in or offer a word or two of subtle advice, but otherwise, I must allow them to live the moment on their own.

Later still, as I carried my daughter off of the school playground against her will (how is it that even when their fingers are freezing off they still want to play?) I leaned in and whispered some words of comfort and distraction. She leaned her head back against mine and conceded. No big argument. Just quiet agreement. Yes!

This reminded me of something I had read once. A reminder that when we whisper or speak softly our hearts are more connected, somehow in tune with one another.

Below is the full excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s blog:

A master asked his disciples:

‘Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?’

the disciples thought for a while, and one of them said
‘Because we lose our calm, we shout for that.’
‘But, why to shout when the other person is just next to you? ‘Isn’t it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice? Why do you shout at a person when you’re angry?’
The disciples gave him some other answers but none satisfied the master.

Finally he explained:
‘When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance.’

Then the master asked:
‘What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, why? Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small…’

And he concluded:
‘When they love each other even more, what happens?
‘They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love.

‘Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.’

 

For a day, I have no choice. No option but to submit to calm and cool parenting. But will I remember the lessons learned tomorrow when my voice returns? My children hope so. And so do I.

CB

Confessions of a Slasher – life choice or economical necessity?

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I keep hearing this great ‘new’ term: Slash Careers. You’ve heard of them before but probably labelled it offhand as a bizarre life choice for that eccentric fellow you met at your spouse’s Xmas party last year. You remember the lawyer/musician/life coach? Or your odd girlfriend from university, the hairdresser/lab tech? Who are these curious oddities? How can they be living a life with more than one primary occupation? I was confused. Until I became one of them.

I discovered firsthand… there is name for my incessant need to delve into new careers and explore my unique abilities. I belong to the odd. I belong to the undecided. I belong to the unique. Or at least I did, until slash careers started to became almost the norm after our most recent economic decline. The world is moving at a fast pace. So I figure, I’m going to grab on,dig my fingernails in and go for a good ride while I’m here!

My slashing began a few years ago when I started training to teach ballroom dancing. I had already established myself in a career as a Respiratory Therapist for 6 years, so when people asked me what I did for a living, I had always said I was an RT. After I began to teach dancing, I started to find it frustrating answering the dusty old question, “So what do you do?”. Do I answer them from a perspective of pride and accomplishment for my established health care career or do I speak of my passion for dance?

My slashes appear to follow a trend of left brain intellect vs. right brain creativity (Respiratory Therapist/dance teacher). Others follow a solid-income/life-passion pattern (engineer/activist). Some just do what they have to in order to survive (entrepreneur/medical office assistant/yoga instructor).

What a fantastic way to ensure that you have something to ‘fall back’ on if one career suddenly takes a nose-dive. This is the very best kind of insurance policy…one that you use and enjoy! If your teacher/musician/writer gig doesn’t offer enough security, you can always decide to take that amazing skill of rock-climbing and love of tourism off into a new direction with an adventure travel-guide business.

But here is the ultimate question: Are people that have slash careers happier? Is this some new methodology for self-expression? Is this a way for us to live our lives with more choices, feeling as though we can have a balance between what allows us to survive and what keeps us thriving?

For myself, I say: absolutely. All of the above. I keep adding to my slash titles every year or two, simultaneously expanding on my ability to cushion another economic downturn while experiencing great satisfaction in new-found talents.

RT week2

My happy place…critical care. Stressful but awesome.

My happy place. Photo credit: Christine Bacon 2010

My other happy place- on the dance floor. Dance is my biggest passion by far. Photo credit: Christine Bacon 2010

Some people will argue that by spreading your interests too widely, you remove your ability to become great and excel in your ‘field’ . I will argue that your renewed energy and vigour for life will keep you most able to rock out any chosen career. Shaking off the mundane daily grind with variety will give a unique perspective and likely make you better at all of your careers. My personal experience was that my public speaking ability in the critical care medicine world soared after teaching full classes in ballrooms. My confidence in my physical presence and my energy to attack and perfect my presentations were at all-time highs.

So whether you are feeling the urge to ‘Lean-out’ at your go-to workplace and try something new (part-time chef-school anyone?) or you already love doing what brings home the bacon, but cannot help but yearn for a creative outlet (sculpting class?), becoming a slasher may be just perfect for you. It’s not an odd occurrence anymore to interact with a construction worker/english tutor. In fact, it is steadily becoming the norm.

Related articles:

Marcy Alboher’s website – author of One Person/Multiple Careers

Blogpost on BreatheandSmile:  Unleashing Your Many Job Identities Through the Slash! One Person / Multiple Careers

Amy Gutman’s article: – Why Have One Career When You Can Have Three? Or Four? Or More?

CB