Archive for May, 2014

considering a walk out – you in?
May 21, 2014

In light of the imposed strife affecting our education system, I’m thinking maybe I should walk out too. You in?

Not for a moment do I begrudge the teachers or the school district. I mean, seriously, who would trade places?

While I might bemoan my own work day, I wouldn’t consider switching it for the challenges and importance of a class of kindergarten kids. If I were their teacher, it would be all we could do to manage to get our shoes off in time for recess to put them back on time before the bell rang to call everyone back inside. Everyone should have a go at that. Don’t get me started on lunch and the opening of yogourt tubes and granola bars. The fact that I would be mandated to teach the alphabet, the days of the week, the months of the year, the numbers and do it all without a nap time of my own? Not happening. No thank you. But thank you to those who do. It’s magic to watch a teacher get through to a child. Absolute magic.

And I hardly think my day would be any better spent at a school district. The ultimate rubic’s cube. Here’s your challenge. We decide how much money you get and we decide what the curriculum is. Now go. Get it done. Forget about the fact that no two families are alike, no two children learn alike and no two teachers teach alike and no two schools operate alike and no two towns are the same. But please, deliver us, on time and on budget, a sufficient number of graduates to earn the income they need to pay us the taxes to generate the budgets we need to be re-elected. Ugh. I’d rather have a root canal.

Clearly, my real issue is with the provincial government. How convenient of them to forget that the education system belongs to their constituents. We, the citizens and taxpayers of British Columbia are both the consumers of and investors in the education system. It’s a bit like being the dealer and the player at a high stakes poker game. You’d think the odds were in our favour, but no. Nothing could be further from the truth. This particular high-staked game is rigged and the deck is stacked against us.

But if every gambler just walked out. Said enough is enough. There wouldn’t be much of a casino to run, now would there?

If I walk out, I don’t work. If I don’t work, I don’t earn. If I don’t earn, I don’t pay taxes. If I don’t pay taxes, the game is over.

The provincial government is gambling with our money. And every time a school day ends early or doesn’t start at all, we pay for that either in lost wages or extra day care expenses.

The average Canadian family (based on two incomes) earns $44/hour. If you cut my day by 15 minutes – we lose (or have to supplement our income by) $110 a month. There are 1.7 million households in BC. Let’s be generous and assume 60% of them have children in school. Let’s call it one million. Hopefully you had good math teachers because that’s 110,000,000 per month in lost productivity. Per month. And that’s just a 15 minute cut in class time (which is all we’ve had to deal with so far).

By this calculation, next week’s walkout will cost us $154,000,000 as a province based on the lost income (or incurred expense) of one earner per household with children.

I’m sorry but if ANY other industry knocked on Ms. Clark’s door and said “uhm excuse me, if this doesn’t get sorted, we’ll lose 154 million dollars in productivity next week”, I’m pretty sure she’d pick a power suit, find a microphone and offer up a solution on the six o’clock news.

Trouble is, she doesn’t see education cut backs as a productivity issue, she sees them as an efficiency of government resources issue. This isn’t about cost, it’s about earnings. And if we don’t earn, they don’t learn. And if they don’t learn, we don’t earn.

And seeing as the likelyhood of getting a report card or a year end school trip or even a decent recess are getting slimmer by the day, I might as well stay home with my kids and play. That, I enjoy.

Sometimes lessons are best taught by doing, or in this case, not doing rather than teaching.

If that’s what it takes to teach this government a lesson their financial statements won’t soon forget, then perhaps, it’s what needs to be done.

So I’m calling for a parent walk out. When the government sees the lost wages of a single day of our life’s work, they might learn a lesson. We can only hope.



The real meaning of Mother’s Day for me
May 11, 2014

Of all the things I’ve learned, motherhood was the most surprising and as it happens, the most humbling. 

It’s not something you can train or prepare for. In fact, if you try to train or prepare for it, you will be sorely disappointed. It’s not something you make happen, it’s something that happens to you. And the difference is important.

Motherhood is a ritual that is passed down from generation to generation and not just from mothers to mothers. It takes a team to raise a parent, regardless of their gender.

When my eldest was born, I admit, I had no idea what i was in for. I worried about the pain. That seems to be the overriding message of pre-natal classes. What they failed to explain was the overwhelming feeling that you would be the ultimate provider for a teeny tiny human being on the planet. I was ready for diapers and late night feedings. I was ready for crying and discomfort. I wasn’t ready for the responsibility.

When my son was born, I was subjected to horrific medical procedures. I don’t even like getting my eye brows tweezed. So you can imagine my horror in the delivery room. Anyway, after a very long day of “monitoring” it was decided that my son would arrive by C section. The call went out to medical professionals across the Shuswap: nurses, anesthesiologist and surgeons, who willingly made their way to my bedside at an ungodly hour. My husband signed a piece of paper acknowledging that if he passed out, nobody could help him. Bless him. He signed.

I was strapped to an operating table and cut open to get the baby out safely. And I have never known so much gratitude in my entire life. He was safe. And our family was born.
In the days and weeks that followed, my whole world changed. Suddenly, I understood what I was put on this earth for. And not a day goes by that I don’t think about those professionals who got out of bed, changed out of their pyjamas, jumped in their vehicles and drove to the hospital to save us. 
My baby nurse was amazing. We connected on some level that I had never experienced. While her children were grown, she understood that my experience was changing me as a person. A mother was also being born. She was gracious, kind and supportive, for which I will be eternally grateful. 
So for me, mother’s day will always be about health care professionals. God love ’em. You could live in any country in the world, but only in Canada would this happen. We are so fortunate.
When you are next at the doctor’s office and you’re waiting longer than you expected, remember, there is someone in emergency who needs them more. Please, take the time to appreciate that if you needed them more, they would be there for you, too. 
A  year after my son was born, I stopped into the hospital with some timbits and a cheque for the hospital foundation to say thank you. They were surprised and busy. It seems that some professions are greater than the sum of the acts of kindness they deserve. 
That I even have a mother’s day is because of them. Happy making of a mother’s day. My gratitude knows no bounds. 

Down the Rabbit Hole
May 3, 2014

This column first appeared in the May All Month Edition of the Salmon Arm Friday AM

I always carry a copy of Alice in Wonderland with me. Odd, but true. It’s my go to source of wisdom, inspiration and perspective. You see, Alice had no idea what she was getting into that fateful day. And to some extent, neither do I. Every day is an adventure, especially when you’re a small business owner like me.

You never know who you’ll meet, where you’ll go and what will happen. It’s all very exciting and on occasion, absolutely terrifying. There are cheshire cats, mad hatters and queens of hearts in the business world. There are days where you feel very big and there are days where you feel very small. There are days where you rush around like a mad hatter. And there are days where you might best express yourself with a few swings of a croquet club.

What you might not know is that Alice in Wonderland was not only about words, it was also about numbers. Just like business, as it happens. Both are very powerful storytellers, words and numbers, that is. Lewis Carol was the pen name of a Reverend at an Oxford College. It’s said that Alice’s adventures were a satirical exploration of the mathematical theory of the time. The book was first published in 1865.

It’s my view that modern business is also a satirical exploration of mathematical theory. Despite centuries of commerce, we have yet to find a way to measure what really matters. How much, for example, is a pound of happiness worth? How about an ounce of laughter? Can we benchmark the love we feel for our families and friends? Is there any better key performance indicators than a beautiful sunset followed by a glorious sunrise?

There are, on the other hand, things we are exceptionally good at measuring. Baseball statistics for one (they are more complex than most university level economics courses), debt equity ratios, gross domestic product, trade balances, net worth, interest rates and stock exchange indices. But to what end? I bet Alice would wonder that too. Her adventure was all about finding the answers to riddles as complex and confusing as these. Which is what we all do. And until I figure them out, she’ll be with me enjoying the tea party.

“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar. “I hardly know, sir, just at present – at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.”

And speaking of stories, I hope you’ll take in the new exhibition now open  and running through to the end of June at the Salmon Arm Arts Centre. It’s called Saga: The Art of Storytelling in the 21st Century. It’s a collaborative and interactive exploration of our stories, how we tell them and how they unite us as the giant tea party that is our wonderful and adventurous community.

PS – You needn’t worry about the Queen of Hearts, she wasn’t invited.