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leaving on a jet plane

Is it crazy that as a working mom for the past four years this is my first trip away from home over night? Four nights to be exact. I’ve avoided it until now. I don’t like the idea of being too far away. I feel like I need to qualify that statement: I love to travel, so much that I went to get my pilots licence at one point. So much so that I would jump on a plane with my Dad (who was a pilot) just for the journey, taking me to China four times for less than a day. I love going away, love experiencing the world and the differences that make us unique from across country to across the world. Those cool unique places, experiences and journeys are moments in life that I look forward to and plan at night with Cam to share together and with our kids for years to come.

But: I haven’t found any reason good enough to pull me away from kissing my babies goodnight, and from relaxing late at night with Cam, and seeing all of their gorgeous faces waking up. I find no fault in those people who find their energy in leaving and returning. I completely understand and value the concept of absence makes the heart grow fonder. But for me – right now – my greatest joy is just… where my family is. So it had to be special, really special – to get me on a plane across the country and away from my four babes. And it is. I’m writing this from my ipad in the air on the way to be inspired.

It’s an interesting destination. This trip to inspiration will be driven by innovation, fueled by creativity, and hopefully realized through some new friends and interesting conversations.

I love innovation. What do you think of when you read that word? It might be technology related, medicine, business, arts … for me innovation is about thinking about a situation in a new way. Often the coolest innovative ideas I’ve seen are just neat tweaks built on the back of existing ideas. I don’t think innovation needs to be completely unique, never contemplated before ideas… those are the rare gems but no more valuable than the creative improvements that make a great idea more accessible, or a brilliant advance more applicable.

I’m going to learn from some of the innovators that I hold high. To breath the same air, participate in the conversations that I have no business being a part of, and witness the ideas as they take form in stories and presentations and labs.

And for my babes… I left a package for each morning – something to let them know I am thinking of them – to inspire their little creative minds from crayons and paper to draw their people and dinosaurs, to grab bag of pipe cleaners, pompoms, stickers and tissue to make a coral reef, to bug catchers and magnafying glasses to explore the backyard. And a story for each night – about a princess and a magic dinosaur – a bit of both worlds to please all the cuties as they line up on our big bed at home with their tooth brushes and look into my awesome husband’s face – eagerly awaiting the tales that they will bring to life in their dreams.

I’m leaving on a jet plane. I’m excited and honoured to get this opportunity. And I can’t wait to get home and hug them all. Hopefully with the gift of perspective and inspiration to share at work and at home.

Here’s to adventures… I hope you get one this week too. xo

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winging it

This week at work a wonderful colleague is leaving our team for a terrific new opportunity.  It’s the right choice, and he’s got a bright future ahead of him and it’s time to try new things.  I’ll miss his quiet perseverance, all-knowing smirks and brilliant new ways of looking at problems.

I took him out for a quick congratulatory lunch and asked him if he had any advice for us as he stepped away.  In keeping with his humble nature he turned the question into an observation that made me smile.  He told me one of his favorite lessons that he learned from working with me was that everyone is winging it, and it’s okay to let people in on the secret.  I had an inward sigh of relief in hearing that – I think I’ve been holding my breath for almost two years since taking on a leadership role at this new organization.  My style of leadership is almost awkwardly transparent. I love to inspire, to generate ideas with people, to get excited with people, and to get everyone revved up… and then I hope to set them free.  But the reality of our area of work, is that the challenges are many.   From subjective data, barriers in accountability, and limited budgets, to the perception of marketing and branding as colours and fonts instead of a collection of perceptions that shape the face of your business – there are always questions that don’t have clear answers.  So sometimes we get asked the tough questions, and in those moments I look around the room … and sometimes I have the answer.  Sometimes I just make up the answer.  And sometimes (often) I say – “Wow.  great question. What do you think?” I wonder daily if this style is deflating, or uninspiring, or if I’m making people think our foundation is shaky (which it isn’t).  I over-think the words I chose, the reactions in the room, the style of the workshop, the outcomes and the little comments that I didn’t hear.  I know, because I’ve read it so many times now, that many leaders far far greater than myself feel the same fears, question themselves, and wonder when people are going to realize this whole thing is built on a gut feeling and a heck of a lot of passion (ie. to quote Sheryl Sandberg  “when will they figure out I’m a fraud”).  I understand now, more than ever, that there will always be people who want to poke holes, and ask questions that have no answers – but more importantly – that most people want, so badly, to believe in something bigger, to believe in good leadership – that they just do.  They believe. I’m one of those people.  I seek out inspirational leaders, and feed off their energy.  It’s so rare that you get to see behind the cutain though, so rare that you get to understand that they are just like you and I – vulnerable, trying like all hell to get it right, and not really completely sure of where to go next.  My colleague let me know that letting people in on that secret is okay.  That is not to say that doing the research, and owning the concept, and having conviction are not important – those elements are key to being a good leader, in fact.  But, as in this great article he sent me, in the end we’re all just winging it.

I don’t think this ends in the workplace.  ‘Fake it til you make it’ is not just for show biz, or business at all … in fact I have done some of my more earnest ‘faking it’ as a mom.  As I thought about this today, I had the good fortune of reading a post from one of my favorite creative bloggers on the west coast, Emily Jones, who told a story about her interactions with a new mom in preschool.  The young mom had three babes, preschooler being the oldest, and she asked Emily (who has 4 kids, the youngest in preschool) when it gets easier.  The answer was a beautifully written post summarized as “soon”.  But hidden in there is the real answer that it always changes, just when you think you’ve got it, the world rocks you again – so whether it’s learning to eat ,or stumbling to walk, or drawing on walls, or riding a bike to the mail box, or driving the car away without you for the first time – it’s always new, and you always have to just wing it, follow your gut, and live and learn.

I think we all get this on some level.  I just wish we were a little easier on each other.  Myself included. When we have a minute to stop and breath we can see that the person standing at the front of the room is a human, trying his best.  We can see that the screaming child on the playground belongs to the mom on the bench who is also consoling an infant and corralling a toddler.  We can see that despite our best intentions, we all make mistakes, we all fumble.  Why am I so quick then, to notice when one of my fellow ‘wingers’ took a wrong turn?  This is my own lesson for today… I guess I’m just writing this to keep it real – tomorrow I’ll try to be a little easier on, and laugh a little longer with,  all those fellow employees and parents of the world who are winging it.  Because it’s nice to know we’re in it together.

 

may i have s’more?

It’s been a wonderful couple of weeks.  One of those times in life that you want to remember, and leaves you wanting more.

I got to attend my first mothers day tea – which is absolutely magical. Wow.  mothers day tea

Our four year old thinks I’m 80 years old, that i love watching the news, and his favorite things about me are 1. my vast dinosaur knowledge 2. my ability to cook chicken and 3. the fact that I love him to the moon and sun and around earth and back.  At least one outa the three is right…

mothers day pic

 

We went to the interior for a few days to celebrate mothers day with Cam’s wonderful mom and our awesome sister-in-law, and then this past weekend we celebrated Cam getting another year cuter.  The sunshine and casual backyard bbqs had us all forgetting the long wet winter and looking forward to another fabulous spring/summer.

Entertaining is one of my very favorite things to do.  Cleaning up pre and post entertaining is not.  That’s a part of the reason that I love outdoor season so much – it’s so much more care-free.  Most of the weekend happened on very short notice, and plans just came together beautifully.  Love it when that happens.  This weekend we also actually had one of our visitors wash ALL of our dishes for us (even though we told her to stop)! So incredible.

Our family, as you likely know by now, are not big adventurous eaters – so when we have people over I get a bit of a thrill out of people actually consuming the food.  To see salad and dip bowls drained, plates with nothing but scraps left over, and people eating and chatting and laughing – it makes my heart soar.  So on these special days I like to try new recipes.  Things that might take a little longer to make, but with people who enjoy the end product it’s soooo worth it!  Enter Rosie Daykin and Butter Baked Goods.  Do you know who I’m talking about?  Famous little bakery downtown Vancouver, and fantastic cook book.  She makes marshmallows like nobody else… and the most impressive part is that she’s shared the recipe in her cook book… and it actually works.  So this weekend I made marshmallows, and graham crackers, and we had some s’mores.  After the ice cream cake and the cupcakes this was a neat departure, and a pretty successful outcome.  handsome 38

 

Thought I’d share the recipe in case you’d like to try it.

smore

To make the marshmallows (summarized from the cookbook):

  • 1 C water, 3 envelopes gelatin, 2C sugar, 1/2C corn syrup, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 TBSP vanilla, lots of icing sugar
  • in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment add 1/2 C of water to the gelatin and mix
  • in a pot over high heat add 1/2C water to the sugar and corn syrup and salt and bring to a boil, keep it boiling for 1 min
  • turn mixer on low and add the mixture slowly, scraping the side of the bowl
  • turn the mixer to high and whip for 10 min until the mixture is 3X the original and very thick, add vanilla, stir for 30 more seconds
  • transfer to a prepared 8×8 pan and cover in saran wrap. let it sit for at least 3 hours to overnight

making marshmellows

  • turn it out onto a surface with icing sugar and cut into 1×1 inch marshmallows – turning into the icing sugar to cover on all sides to coat completely

finished marshmellows

  • store for up to a week in a container, or other air tight packaging.  Add variations to flavour and colour if you like.

marshmellow and graham crackers

It seems the birthday season is here … can’t wait to celebrate with our friends and family over the next few months and I hope you’ll share your favorite recipe for bbq birthday fun with me so we can keep the new ideas coming.  Have a great week xo