Thursday, June 20, 2013


What is it about vacations that turns us into the ever-ready bunny?  We almost kill ourselves getting everything done before we go, defeating the whole point of having a break.

Part of it I think is our need to have all our paper work neat and tidy – kind of like wearing clean underwear – just in case something goes wrong and we don’t make it back. Heaven forbid people’s perceptions of us should be sullied.

I maybe exaggerate, but we do seem to have this obsession to leave everything in order before we leave, unlike the chaos of the other fifty weeks of the year.  Well, I may be giving up on that one, partly because I am running out of time and I still have to pack, which is a time-consuming process in itself.

Packing. Don’t know about you but it starts with my looking out my favourite clothes and then having to make some big decisions about what goes, and what stays.  All the time I am muttering under my breath – it’s only x number of days.

Part of my challenge is I am, OK I 'fess up… a dirty girl.  That’s what my girlfriend Anne and I call ourselves.  What does it mean?  Basically, we tend to spill stuff on ourselves, our clothes, etc… As my daughters would say to me, “ You give new meaning to take-away, Mom” when I have half the meal on my topJ

But this and the anticipated colder weather where we are going, creates a packing challenge.  “Travel light” my husband instructs, but that’s easy for him to say.  As the fashionista in this family, I have a reputation to uphold.  I can’t just pack my jeans, I have to be prepared for all social occasions.

The other challenge is leaving room for a few, well all right, several, purchases, while I am away. I won’t lie, I love to shop and to shop in another country is fresh fodder to me.   

No, while I want to pack light, I have to be cognizant of the weather, my tendencies to spill and my fetish for shopping, all of which means that we are already on overload.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Go with the flow

In the past I have likened public speaking to going to the dentist – painful and nerve-racking - neither were my favourite ways to spend my time.

But you know what, I learned something about myself last week. I’ve come a long way.  As some of you will have read through LinkedIn or Facebook, I was speaking at the convocation for Sheridan College grads at the Living Arts Centre. 

It was the largest group graduating with over 400 grads in their finest, strutting across the stage.  One by one, the grads, mainly female, would totter past me in these amazing shoes, with heels that looked like lethal weapons

The place was packed with close to 1,500 people in attendance, and as a speaker I was sitting on the stage for close to three hours, waiting for my turn.  What I hadn’t realized was that I would be the last to speak.  Being last after a long evening, has to be the worst gig, ever. 

The longer the ceremony went, the shorter my speech became in my head. Now it wasn’t actually in my head, I had written it and then shortened it down to a few bullet points, but even that was going to be too long.  I just knew it.  So what did I do?

I surrendered and gave up the speech I was going to give.  I didn’t even look at my notes.  Instead, I made some wise cracks that tied in with what previous presenters had said which got everyone laughing, made two or three key points, and then sat down.

As for the profound, meaningful quote from Mark Twain that I’d planned to end on, it went by the wayside too.  I just said “Congratulations, now go party.”

My lesson from all this is that you really do have to be flexible, gauge your audience and adapt to what they want to hear.  Otherwise, you’ve lost them.

And as for my closing remarks – now the grads liked that advice!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Get a life

What do you do for yourself ? our speaker was asked.  Silence, as it hit her that she did nothing that was just for her.  She had no hobbies. No life.  It was all about work, making the business work, making money. And when you have employees depending on you to pay them, the  pressure is really on.

You could see that her words were resonating with the women in the audience, likely they were asking themselves the same question, and coming up with similar answers. It is hard to eke out some time for yourself, because if it is not the business, it’s the family, your home, your parents….the list goes on and on.

I often find that I get most support from meeting up with girlfriends, and yet even that time can get lost in the shuffle as the demands of business take their toll on my personal life.

A couple of years ago I decided “enough” and I started taking my Fridays off.  I’d set up to have lunch with a friend, go for a massage, or hair cut.   I made it so it wasn’t so easy to get out of this date with myself.   And while some months I don’t quite manage it, I have been fairly loyal to this plan, because it works and I feel so much better when I switch off and become just me, Anne Day.  Not Anne Day, business owner, wife, mother, dog owner, volunteer…

When you lose sight of yourself, it can be hard to remember who you really are or what you enjoy doing.  What did you like to do pre-business, before kids?  Maybe you need to tap into those interests again.  Having a good laugh with girlfriends can sustain me for weeks. 

What I do know for sure, is that working 24/7 is not good for anyone – you, your family or your business.  We all need to take a break – be it ten minutes a day just to take a walk, because when you do, you’re better able to get the work done, and still feel alive in your own life.