Eight short years ago I curtailed my social life and hit the books to study conflict resolution and become a certified coach. I focused on caring for my farm family, read tons of great books, travelled to Winnipeg and Santa Barbara California to be a part of two really great learning communities. I am glad I made the choice, and I am thankful that the investment of time, money and energy has paid off.
Women who thrive are life-long learners. They never tire of trying out new things or finding creative ways to solve lingering hassles. They enjoy talking through their problems with trusted friends in the sacred space of a “visit, online chat, or phone call.” They are risk takers and “inner-directed”.
Sometimes when the cashier at Co-op is piling my groceries she asks , “Where have you been lately ? I haven’t seen you for awhile. “ I tell her of my travels to speak to a group in BC or tape the AgVision TV show in London, Ontario. The non-farmers in the store stop me to share their feedback on seeing me on CTV. These travels and opportunities have blossomed since I took my certification for coaching and conflict resolution. I was given the chance to do television after writing a book, and doing a decade of 18 annual columns for a prairie farm paper. Words are powerful, with lasting impact, and I am thankful for my high school taskmaster English teacher and the encouragement of my chemistry teacher, Gopalkrisha (Gopie) .
“Elaine has a very good head for a girl, she should be able to enter the man’s world in any field, and stay at the top.” Gopie, (l974, Springfield High School report card.)
WOW. Some of you born after 1978 are offended by his comment “for a girl”, but don’t hang on that thought. Think about how smart you are as a woman, and the many resources you have at your disposal to continue being a life-long learner.
What are you getting ready for?
Getting ready is a definable stage of the cycle of renewal that I understand well as a coach. This is the phase my divorced single-parent cousin finds herself in as she is 56, broke, and wanting more education with a MBA to earn a decent salary.
This is also the stage our 25 year old daughter finds herself in as she approaches university graduation with an arts degree in communication. She is a sponge for ideas that are marketable. We are keen to close down the Bank of Mom and Dad.
You’ve likely been getting ready to plan which seeds you are going to plant in your garden. Stephen Covey says “Without the gardener, there is no garden.” The tulips and daffodils are not going to magically pop up without prior planting by a thoughtful and disciplined gardener. Someone has to get the garden ready.
What thought have you given to your next chapter or season in your life?
Today I spoke with a frustrated farm woman who first met me five years ago. She is sad that her getting ready to move has been squelched by a spouse who can’t let go of an old chapter of life on the home yard. She needs hope that things can change.
I am a perpetual optimist who believes that all things are possible when you have resources like time, money, prayer and people to make change happen. I am the eldest child of a beef producer family of five children who was always told “ I could do anything.” I was given the opportunity for dance lessons, piano, soccer, volleyball, travel, and art classes all through my teens, and every summer I had camp or worked at a camp. Growing up 15 minutes from Winnipeg’s Concert Hall was great, a country girl living very close to the culture of the big city.
I started speaking on a 4-H platform when I was nine, and was paid to speak at age 22.
The walls of my home office, the one I spend over 30 hours a week in encouraging farm families through voice, word, and video are lined with many books and professional development CDs. When my husband Wes drives us home from Winnipeg, I can be caught using my laptop screen to light the darkness so that I can keep reading books like Gladwell’s “The Outliers”. I love to journal and paint watercolour cards of encouragement.
Folks who succeed are typically those who lose all track of time when they are doing what they are called to do, and what they are wired for. This is called “FLOW”. For me, that would be writing, coaching, and presenting. (Not weeding.)
I once bought “ Now, Discover your Strengths” and did the 25 minute online assessment. My strengths are communication, positivity, life-long learning, empathy and WOO. WOO is winning others over. When Wes read the report he quipped “no surprises there !”
So whether you are 22, 42,62 or 82 I encourage you to find meaning and purpose in your many roles as friend, sister, wife, mom, farmer, etc. We have the internet to research any subject we want to explore. We have inter-library loan to borrow books that open a whole new world of possibility . (Read the Art of Possibility by Zander and Zander). We have choices as to how we will spend our time creating new ideas, projects, and relationships in our book clubs, churches, mastermind groups, mentor programs, schools, and volunteer associations.
My life is very full. I choose what role priorities need to rise to the top in my personal self care (good sleep, good food choices, fun exercise), my marriage, my family, my work, our farm and our community. Make a list of these six roles, and write down what you want to focus on for the next 3 months.
What things are no longer serving you well that you might want to let go of? I let go of two thirds of my garden and grassed it in. It’s a bit lumpy as the neighbour’s cows invaded it, but the grass still looks better than unsightly pigweed .
You might need to let go of what other women think of your dreams and plans. I am saddened by stories of envy or jealousy when I hear “ I wish my life was like yours”.
These observers have no idea of the hours, hassles and hard things that need to be managed as you work towards your meaningful life.
The art of possibility is giving yourself an “A” to live the life you choose as excellent. You can “lead from any chair” regardless of your economic status or life history.
Get ready for a new chapter in your life by learning about new opportunities, meeting new creative folks, and listening to the encouragement of those who really understand how you are wired.
I’d love to hear your story. Send me a photo of you having fun in your new chapter.
Every woman has an amazing story. Start the next chapter now.