Sunday, October 29, 2006

Well I am still living a double life. Receptionist by day at my friend’s salon, business owner by night – probably not unlike many of the Company of Women members who have day jobs while they build their businesses on the side.

It’s a full and tiring life isn’t it. I have new admiration for those of you who do this on an ongoing basis. But I have to say there are aspects of being the receptionist that are quite fun. One elderly lady told me I was doing a great job, and believing I was just a temp (true) and looking for a job (not true), touched my arm and told me she thought I’d get snapped up, and not to worry about finding work. Good to know.

Most of the clients have been quite charming and I have enjoyed the interaction with them, but just as in any business there have been a few who have been less respectful and demanding, believing your only role in life is to serve them.

I’ve even mastered the computer program so hey – I can add this to my resume. But most important of all, I’d like to think that I’ve been there to support my friend. It’s scary starting a new business and I know for myself, having friends around to give you a boost, helps you get through the day. It’s also good to have someone to bounce off ideas as while the end decision rests with the business owner, getting input and encouragement, makes you feel less alone.

So as we recruit a full time receptionist for the salon, and my stint ends, I know I am going to miss my “regulars.” Being with and helping people reminds me of the part of Company of Women I like best – interacting with the women involved.
We always imagine that someone who is successful, made a name for herself would never have self-doubts. Yet at the 10th ATHENA Gala, guest speaker, Susan Aglukark – Canadian singer and songwriter, shared that she often questioned whether she was talented enough to be successful. As her beautiful voice soared and she explained the meaning behind the songs she sang, there was little doubt in the audience that she not only had the talent, but had the wisdom and depth to succeed.

Why do we question ourselves? I was one of the organizers of that event, and behind the scenes a couple of things went wrong that potentially could have spoiled the evening. I had spent hours co-ordinating the event, making lists, checking the lists, and yet my first thought when each problem came up, was that I had somehow screwed up, I had forgotten something. As it was, we were able to resolve the situations and no, I was not to blame- the responsibility rested with others.

Keen to enhance my writing skills, I am reading a book that gives you different exercises to do to stretch yourself. One was to write for ten minutes on what I remember, and then on what I don’t remember; I know and I don’t know; and I am and I am not. Once again, I found the pen just flowed when it came to the negatives and I struggled more with coming up with the positives.

Ironically, our next breakfast meeting will focus on staying positive, managing our self-doubt – topics that the women in the group chose – so clearly I am not alone, and clearly I need to listen and take notes too!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

This week I am helping out a friend who has just opened up a business. It has been interesting to realize how many steps are involved in just getting started, and all the paperwork required. I guess much depends on the type of business, but when you are opening up a store or retail business, there is so much more to consider than starting a home office.

Right now I am learning her computer system, which given my own challenges this fall, is somewhat ironic. This may be the blind leading the blind, but it makes for a change in the routine and by taking this on, it frees up my friend to do what she does best. I just hope I don't totally screw up and double-book people for appointments, etc. The computerized cash register also takes some getting used to and the first time the drawer sprung open, I just about jumped out of my seat!

So, all in all, I think this is going to be a great learning experience and provided I don't manage to put her out of business before week end, it should be fun. However, I know... I won't give up my day job.
There was not a dry eye in the room, even our speaker, Barbara Underhill shed a few tears as she shared her story. As she said herself, she'd experienced the highs of success as a skater and the depths of despair as a mother whose child had died in a bizarre accident.

Yet she used that tragedy to turn it into something positive - not just for herself - but for Canadian children. Through her work with the Stephanie Gaetz Foundation, children in Ontario have the opportunity to learn life-saving water skills, so that should an emergency occur, they know how to cope, and more importantly how to survive.

She's also found that when you give love, you get it back tenfold. Everyone was touched by her gesture of giving us each two angels. One for ourselves, and one to give to someone else who is hurting, and needs an angel.

Her other key message was around the importance of keeping your sense of humour, no matter what. When she showed the last clip of her skating with Paul Martini, just a few months after her daughter had died, you could see and appreciate the belly laughs, as she accidently pulled her partner's pants off during a skating routine. It was just what she needed, and it worked. It helped her turn a corner; to realize that life does go on.

While Barbara only talked with us for half an hour, she gave us a lot to think about and her message brought home the importance of relationships - family and friends. None of us lives in isolation, nor should we.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I'm back. How was your September? Mine was a whirlwind which resulted in my silence. After the 60K walk, we plunged into programming with three major events in eight days. What was I thinking?! Clearly not enough to recognize that this would be a drain on our resources and our energy levels.

And if that wasn't enough, we've had our share of technical problems. My computer crashed (and died) leaving me bereft and all at sea for four, l-o-n-g days after which I had to grapple with new programs and you all know about me and learning curves!

Then there's the printers - our main one keeps asking for a change in personality - would gladly oblige if it meant we got one that co-operated, and our back-up printer is out of toner which Staples tells us is back-ordered until November! Even our Moneris printer has been coughing and spluttering So you get the gist... there's a black cloud over all that is technical in our office.

Talking of personalities - no, not the printer's - we've had our share of difficult people too. Must be the full moon or something. So all told, I'm glad to see October.