Thinking & Operating in 'the Gap'

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I’ve always disliked short work weeks. We’re all trying to cram the same amount of work from a five-day work week into four. This week is no different - lots of deadlines, projects to get done and last minute demands that are making me wish tomorrow wasn’t Friday.

I know, I said it (and I love my Friday’s!).

I AM working on some fun branding projects though this week, as well as content strategy and content creation for clients that I’m excited for. So there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

The one thing I did for myself this week was get the chance to sit down with someone from a leading tech organization in Canada’s ‘silicon valley of the north‘ aka. Kitchener. I’ve always loved the Tannery area of KW, in Guelph’s backyard. There is something about knowing the ideas that are being cooked up behind the walls of the buildings in the area that gets me excited when visiting.

The one thing the meeting made me realize, besides how fortunate I am to meet the people I am in my journey, is how not having the answer to all the ‘big ideas’ or ‘big questions’ I have is also part of this journey of this little thing called life. Right now I’m feeling so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by people from different backgrounds, experiences and who think differently, who are all excited to tackle big world problems and come up with solutions. Especially when many of these people seem to have one thing in common that we want to find solutions for: food/agriculture. One of my true passions.

It reminded me of this recent newsletter I read (thank you for the continued amazing content, Sarah!) and this idea of the gap:

“I call the space between having a question and knowing the answer, the gap. The gap is the unknown, the fear of making a change in your life when you don’t know what the outcome will be. Humans are really bad at the gap, we are terrible at operating in spaces where there is an unknown.”

I feel like I’ve been operating in the ‘gap’ for a few years now. Having ideas and not knowing exactly how to get to the answer.. but enjoying the process or journey to get there aka. the gap.

Its how I felt last summer when I was between my political job and starting my own business - again, the gap. I continue to operate in the gap even now that my own business is almost a year old.. the questions I have: what to do next, where to take things, should I scale, how do I scale. I’m operating in the gap.

Not to get too philosophical here for a Thursday but isn’t that really what life is all about anyways? Trying to think and operate ‘in the gap’ between the two things we know for sure are to happen to us, birth and death?

Sorry to go all deep on this rainy Thursday, it just felt necessary to share :)

What’s the other thing I learned in that meeting this week (among so many other awesome things)? That Jeff Bezos of Amazon writes a press release for every idea he has, as a way to work backwards from the idea to know how to make the idea a reality. How cool is that?!

Knowing What We Need to Do

Nita Lake Lodge BC

Long weekend, you’re finally here. I can’t wait to take you in, from the comfort of the cottage and the farm. I’ve been away from country air for over a month now, my soul needs to return STAT :P

Most days I love this hustle I’ve created.

But after experiencing BC and the outdoors as much as Andrew and I did and the conversations we had around what all this ‘hustle’ is for, since returning from our trip, I’ve been looking at ‘hustle’ differently. I’m trying to learn to set healthier boundaries for myself so the hustle doesn’t own me.

Is the hustle really as appealing as we all think it is?

It was this video that I actually watched while on holidays that really opened my eyes to what we think all this hustle is for.. and what it really can do to us if we don’t decide ourselves, how busy we want to be.

When I had time outdoors in BC and no emails or tweets to worry about, it was refreshing to let my brain wander. Something it doesn’t really get to do often anymore with how busy my business is. Everything is so scheduled now, down to the hour - back to back client meetings, client work, emails, social media, ideas brewing, projects, etc, etc, etc….

There is always something to do.

But that’s the point.

There will always be something to do, a conversation to be had, people waiting - business and life will always be there for us to ‘do.’

But I’m reminding myself now, that I only have a small role to play in the grand scheme of things. I alone will not change the world- who would have thought?! I know right!

Its only now that I’m realizing I’ve let my big hairy audacious goals, dreams, visions and ideas get the best of me sometimes in an unhealthy way, so I’m trying to scale things back and do what I can in a more realistic way.

I can only do my part.

I can only help with what I’m good at.

And I can only do even my ‘small part’ if I’m healthy enough to do it.

Its not my role to fix the world and all its problem… even though I SO want to for Blake’s future and all the other children out there. That’s just the ‘protagonist’ type of personality I am. I wear the weight of the world on my shoulders. But I can’t wear this responsibility in the way I have forever.

All I can do is my part to help make change.

Learning (and adjusting to this) has been empowering for me the last few weeks.

Our time away from Blake while on our 2+ week trip also reminded me how much I actually do thrive on routine and schedule as much as my two year old son probably does. I’ve been so happy to be home again, getting caught up on life and all things client work (but in a healthier way of course!) Some of my clients, we’re already preparing our Christmas social strategies, which blows my mind, considering summer just started, but that is the way the marketing world works. And life works. Another season is already upon us before we want it to be.

What have I done to set healthier boundaries for myself and my business?

  • organized my calendar to put more ‘white space’ in but also have set more ‘regularly scheduled events’ in my calendar so I’m doing the same tasks at the same time each week for better consistency and meeting planning purposes.

  • organizing my internal business infrastructure to be more user friendly now that the business is growing more than I could have ever dreamed of. What worked last September when I started my business isn’t quite working the same way now. I’ve outgrown this infrastructure already, the growth in my business is an exciting challenge I’ll need to address and something I am SO grateful for.

  • I’m starting to say no to projects if I don’t have the time or capacity to do them, especially this fall while we start a house reno. This has been a tough one for me but something I’ve had to learn. I don’t want my quality work to slip because I take on too much. Sacrificing opportunity as a self-employed business owner is a tough pill to swallow but recognizing what you can (and shouldn’t!) do is so so important.

  • I’m getting frustrated with always being behind my laptop with way too much screen time. I’ve started an ‘idea black book’ as a way to organize all my thoughts, ideas or tips from books and articles I read while I step away from my computer. It feels good to have that type of order to my thoughts after I’ve tried SO many different ways to keep all things organized. I just can’t get into organizing my ideas with my laptop through yet another program or app. This has also helped me start sketching out a system to capture content creation for myself and my business. Content creation for my own business is a priority I’m making this fall. Here I’m preaching ‘consistency is king’ with my clients (maybe even more so than content!) and yet, I don’t do this myself for my own business.

The last month with travel, work and life has made me realize that if we can’t find time to make our meals, eat supper with our kids or let our brains relax when we’re supposed to be ‘turned off’ enjoying time with family and friends, then is what we’ve created really as appealing as we originally thought or had intended? Or what the hustle life told us it would be? Is that the point where you realize the hustle is owning you not the other way around?

I totally understand what hard work and hustle is all for… that is the dairy farmer’s daughter in me.

But learning to work ‘smarter not harder’ is where I’m trying to go with my business and life in general.

Do you know what you need to do?

Happy long weekend, friends! ENJOY the well deserved rest. I’m going to be outdoors in the water or with my cows allll weekend long.

It's Been a While

BC Trip 2019

Oh hey there! Happy Tuesday! A lot has been going on, on both the personal and professional fronts since my last blog post in June. I’m {trying} to get back into the swing of things after a two week trip to BC at the beginning of July for one of my best friend’s weddings, some of the trip which is captured in the photos above.

I had so many more photos I wanted to share but I knew you didn’t have time to stick around and see them all :P I think these perfectly sum up some of the magical views we took in and of course, my worlds of food and cows followed me on our travels :) Some of our trip highlights you ask?

  • An encounter with a grizzly bear mama and her 3 ‘teenage’ cubs 50 feet away while hiking on a trail in Bella Coola, BC. Hands down, one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever experienced. You can plan all you want for moments like that about what you would do when you see a bear, but until you’re in the moment, it’s completely different. And no, I didn’t get a photo!!!! (that is the last thing you’re thinking of doing in a moment like that!)

  • After the most beautiful wedding in the mountains (congrats Coll & Luc!), we took a helicopter ride the next day to take in Bella Coola and the pilot just happened to land upon a mountain top where we got out and took in the views! Seriously stunning! The mountain wasn’t named so we appropriately named it after the bride & groom #TremShea. [I also happened to bring a bottle of prosecco with me that we enjoyed atop.. figures that is what I would bring with me right?! ;) ]

  • The 13+ hour drive from Vancouver to Bella Coola was one of the coolest drives - we saw so many different terrains and landscapes, which meant we made so many photo stops along the way. We were also surprised by how many cows and wild horses were just roaming the roads as we got more north which led us to read about Douglas Lake Ranch, the largest privately held cattle ranch in Canada and one of the largest in North, which we think we took in on the way.

  • We took the ferry over from Bella Coola to Vancouver Island and the 10 hour ferry ride was like a marine wildlife tour that we couldn’t have planned better… we saw a pod of orca whales, a school of dolphins and watched a humpback whale jump out of the water. I also devoured Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead from start to finish on the ferry ride ;)

  • We took in the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, BC when we started our trip in Vancouver. We then ended up visiting Whistler for a few days, where we got to see the Olympic rings and had some fun white water rafting. I had so much more fun than I thought I’d have rafting.. thanks to Andrew for pushing me t o do it!

  • I think my favourite view of the entire trip was from the Clayton Falls Recreation Site in Bella Coola (top middle photo). I can’t describe the feeling of taking in water so blue and trees so green and lush. It honestly looked fake and the photos only capture a small part of how beautiful it really was. I really do hope we can get back there one day again.

So, yes, its been hard to get back into the hustle after a completely different way of living for two weeks. They really do take it easier on the west coast. How could you not when you have views like that to experience at any moment?!

If there is one thing this trip reminded me, its that we’re so damn fortunate to live in a country as free, big, beautiful and diverse as Canada. Looking for a place to escape? Try exploring in our very own country, you may be just as surprised as I was, what you’ll discover (or what bear you’ll run into!) #ProudCanadian

Thursday's Read, Listen & Watch

Read Listen Watch

I have way to many tabs open on my laptop with good content so here is some of what I’m reading, listening and watching. Enjoy!

  • This edition of ‘We Need to Talk About {This}’ newsletter is so dang spot on. This edition too got me going a few weeks back.

  • This Chatelaine read about Chrystia Freeland is dynamite - she really is blazing her own trail.

  • Each week, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of a new episode of this podcast, No Second Chances, talking about the journey of the 12 women who have served as ‘First Ministers’ in Canada (only 12 in the entire history of our country, crazy right?!)

  • This podcast with Dan Harris (author and podcaster from 10% Happier) and Brene Brown had me note-taking like mad. So many good lessons she shares and her honesty, man, there really is a reason she is the queen of ‘vulnerability’ in what she shares about her own journey.

  • I’ve saved this Oprah podcast as one I’ll pull up when I need that ‘raw raw’ reminder of how to do life!

  • Robin Sharma’s podcast is one I’ve subscribed too for a while. This recent episode was a good one which inspired me to blog when he said, “There are geniuses that never did anything.”

  • Need a reminder that we all have resiliency within us? Read this inspiring story.

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One Year

Jeff Leal’s Re-election campaign team on the night of the 2018 provincial election in Peterborough, ON.

Jeff Leal’s Re-election campaign team on the night of the 2018 provincial election in Peterborough, ON.

It was one year ago today, June 7, that the provincial election of 2018 took place, sealing the fate of the government I worked for.. and not in the outcome we were hoping for.

It’s hard to believe it has already been a year.

Today is just as beautiful and sunny as June 7th was a year ago. I can remember in great detail, where I was on this day a year ago and what I was doing. It is amazing how my entire #onthecampaigntrail experience is burned so vividly in my memory. I left Blake, who was not even a year old yet, to work on the re-election campaign of my Minister, someone I greatly admire and respect. “Human being first, politician second” as I always said. It’s why I chose to go and work for him in provincial politics at Queen’s Park. And of course, because of the agri-food sector.

Politics, agri-food and communications… who would have thought three of my passions would have all combined into one experience?! That campaign experience last May-June, which was my first, was an experience like no other. I met so many people, and left with so many friends. You really do feel like family after spending that much time together - seeing everyone at their worst and their best - all trying our hardest to work towards a common goal. Believing so hard in someone and the platform to which they stand behind.

I’ve did a lot of soul searching since last year’s election. And I wasn’t even the politician who lost.. I was just a staffer who supported them! I can’t imagine. But really, 400 staffers lost their jobs that day when the government changed, which is a detail a lot of people don’t know. While I look on my time as a political staffer with great fondness and the campaign experience as something I’ll never forget, I’m also so thankful on a day like today for what those opportunities afforded me in what I’m doing now in running my own business. Only politics could have prepared me to do what I’m doing now. Seriously.

To network, to think strategically, to have perspective that aims to connect people not divide people, to have a thick skin that is 10 layers thick, to be good at something and keep being good at it for others to recognize, to continually learn, evolve and grow, and most importantly, to learn how to relationship manage and work with people to bring out their best…. I have my former political life to thank among other things, for gaining these skills that are now so necessary and required to run my own business here at Crowley + Arklie Strategy & Co.

A few days after last year’s election, feeling emotional about not only the election outcome but also that reality that our time #onthecampaigntrail had come to an end, I started writing done all the things I learned and the following list came to fruition. I never did share this list at the time, I’m not sure why, but today more than ever, feels like the right day to share. Here’s to more experiences #onthecampaigntrail I’m sure one day.

For anyone interested in politics (especially YOU women out there reading this), please do us all a favour - volunteer, work on a campaign, read up on it to become better informed, pursue politics as a career, or better yet, RUN. We'll be better off because of it!

50 things I learned while #onthecampaigntrail:

  1. Motivate more women to get involved in #politics.

  2. More people need to understand how the elections process works.

  3. Getting more women and millennials out to vote can change the outcome significantly.

  4. A smile goes a long way… in any circumstance.

  5. Want ideas on how to decorate your front porch? Go door knocking for a politician.

  6. Always stay hydrated.

  7. Volunteers are the backbone of a political campaign, full stop.

  8. If you can find something in common with voters, your interaction with them goes a long way.

  9. Climbing stairs in apartment buildings is an exhausting feat.

  10. There are still women who say they’ll ask their partner who to vote for…. it’s hard to believe that.

  11. A lot of men comment on Facebook during the day, who would have thought?

  12. If your social media profile doesn’t have a photo of you, I automatically assume your a bot.

  13. Remembering to eat makes a difference while on the campaign.

  14. Coffee on the campaign trail is a necessity, need I say more?

  15. Meeting babies on the campaign trail made me miss Blake even so much more.

  16. Driving by houses you’ve door knocked at makes you appreciate them even more.

  17.  GOTV= “Get Out the Vote”

  18. Turf in politics means something more than grass.

  19. Walking fast when door knocking makes ALL the difference to identify more voters.

  20. Phone calling makes you see what names are most popular in a city.

  21. A lot of people think you need a voter card to vote when you don’t!

  22. Love hard and find time for loved ones - hearing the stories that elders share so quickly about their partners who have passed is so heart-wrenching.

  23. Goodbyes from people who quickly become your friends that feel like family are never easy.

  24. Working for someone fearless reminds you why your making the sacrifices you are. #SorryNotSorry

  25. Seeing how passionate people are post-debate really ups the motivation of supporters.

  26. Always be prepared for calls from mainstream media... at any time of the day.

  27. Never walk on someone’s front lawn when door knocking.

  28. Don’t wear pants while #GOTV on 30+ degree summer days.

  29. No matter how many I meet, I am always star struck by renowned journalists.

  30. Former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B Pearson lived in Peterborough growing up, who knew?

  31. People thought I was the candidates daughter a lot when I arrived with him to houses and events?!

  32. Directing video is actually really hard.

  33. Meeting voters & hearing their personal stories beyond politics is the BEST.

  34. Messages of support from family and friends mean so much when you’re working so damn hard on such long days and wondering at times what this is all for.

  35. You have to have thick skin in the political arena #toughasnails

  36. There was a hockey playoff game on E-night.. who planned that out?!

  37. The Montreal Canadiens owned the Peterborough Petes at one point in time, who knew?!

  38. Also, who knew that baby squirrels can be trained to be pets?

  39. The right background music in a video makes ALL the difference.

  40. Karl Rove was a campaign pioneer.

  41. Homemade food after a long day hits the spot.

  42. Rain makes you walk faster when you’re #GOTV.

  43. “Dipper” means something different in politics than what it means to an Aggie.

  44. Just because the polls predict one thing, does not change the fact that you should get out and VOTE.

  45. Seeing the ads you designed in print and online never get old.

  46. The people of Peterborough really are the nicest and makes me so darn proud to hail from this community.

  47. Ensuring all is ready for the advertising “blackout” period which begins tonight at 11:59 p.m. the night before E-day is mayhem.

  48. Each day, I have so much damn respect for our campaign team & #voteLEAL volunteers.

  49. There is nothing like those last few hours before the polls close and your trying your damndest to do anything you can to help the outcome in the favour you’d like.

  50. Expect the unexpected & go with the flow because you never know where the campaign trail will take you and ultimately, the hard work you put in will pay off at the hands of the voters, so be proud regardless if you win or not. Know it was still all worth it. I would do it all over again.