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Saying Goodbye to Lacey

May 7, 2021

A week ago I was saying goodbye to Lacey. It was not something I had even imagined would happen that day.

Carole holding Lacey in her arms.
Our beautiful Lacey

Lacey had been showing some signs of difficulty breathing for a few days leading up to Friday. My husband and I felt it was best to get her checked out before the weekend. We made an appointment with our vet and off we went. The minute the vet saw Lacey, her face told us it all. I was not prepared. I fell apart. X-rays showed fluid in Lacey’s chest and lungs. So much so, that we couldn’t even see the outline of her heart.

We adopted Lacey from the NL West SPCA in Corner Brook in 2011, one year after adopting her brother Velcro. She was always our “kitten”. Small and fluffy, she was smaller than him. They would generally ignore one another, breaking up the monotony by chasing each other around the house. Every so often, they would curl up peacefully beside one another, quite content with each other’s company.

Velcro and Lacey sleeping on a bed
Velcro and Lacey hanging out in my office

I was allergic to Lacey. She would bite papers on my desk. When I closed my door because I was facilitating a session, she would cry incessantly to get in. She would climb up on my desk, using my leg as a step ladder, multiple times a day, always laying between my arms and my keyboard so that I would have to stop working to pet her. I miss her terribly. She was also so sweet. Her meow was gentle. She was inquisitive. She didn’t drink directly from her bowl of water. Instead she dipped her paw in to the bowl and then licked the water off. She brought so much joy and comfort in to our home in the short 9 years she was with us. The house is quieter without her. Velcro is still crying for her in different rooms of the house. Saying goodbye to Lacey last week was heartbreaking. I am so blessed to have had her in my life. ~ Carole

But Mom, you don’t drink coffee!

May 1, 2021

When my children find out I am headed to a coffee shop, they often wonder why and say, “But Mom, you don’t drink coffee!” I used to drink coffee. A lot. Can I make a confession? I quit drinking coffee in 1989 when I quit smoking. The association between the two vices was too strong. Back then, you could smoke indoors. Almost every night after supper, I would join a group of friends at a coffee shop. We would drink coffee and smoke for hours! We were young enough, and naïve enough to think we could solve all the problems of the world in those few social hours. How I slept so well every night hyped up on tobacco and caffeine is a mystery. On weekends, we shifted to a local bar where smokes and alcohol were the vices. I quit drinking too, when I quit smoking. That’s another story…

I did not realize it at the time but looking back I see it so clearly. There is power in connecting with others. The social benefits are immeasurable. The opportunities to learn about one another, accept our differing viewpoints, disagree in a safe environment, and genuinely connect as individuals is so rewarding. As an entrepreneur, networking is crucial to the success of my business. I rely on word-of-mouth and referrals to gain new clients. Therefore, if I want people to recommend me and my services, they need to get to know me or experience one of my events.

Networking

In April, networking for me included:

  • Facilitating two virtual events
  • Attending three virtual events
  • Attending two in-person events
  • Being a guest speaker at a virtual event
  • Connecting with individuals or a small group three times
Entrepreneur Coffee Break – April 15, 2021

Networking is not just about others getting to know me. It is also about connecting others. If someone says to me, “You should talk to…” I immediately ask for an email introduction. I love returning the favour and making introductions for people to others in my network. Last month, I sent off 24 email introductions and received three emails connecting me to new contacts. Two people recommended me to a new client. As a result, two proposals have been sent for consideration. Connections work!

“But Mom, you don’t drink coffee!” is usually followed by, “What do you drink?” My answer? Milk, hot chocolate, or my new vice, Coca-Cola. I guess I feed my addiction with cold caffeine now. 😉 This month I currently have three networking events scheduled. My monthly virtual entrepreneur coffee break is scheduled for May 19th. Register today! If you are interested in connecting, there is still room on my calendar to go for coffee. Send me an invite. I would love to connect. Who knows? Maybe we can solve the problems of the world. ~ Carole

Yes, I get nervous too!

April 20, 2021

It is true. Yes, I get nervous too. Fortunately, it does not happen every time when I have an event. Nor when it does occur, is it usually severe; however, on occasion, I get nervous before facilitating. Today was one of those days.

On the surface, there was no reason to be nervous today. I was scheduled to deliver a workshop on project management, a topic I am quite familiar with, so why the nerves? IAP2 Canada offers Taster Series workshops free to its members and today my workshop was one of those. IAP2 is the International Association of Public Practitioners of which I am also a member. I am scheduled to deliver a 3-hour course in May on Project Management for Public Practitioners. Today’s session was to give a teaser or taste of what the full course will be and entice people to register. Almost 60 people had registered across North America as of the practice run-through last week. A couple of hours before the session I learned 8 people from Southern Africa region had just registered!

The combination of a new client, a new audience, and a new interpretation of my project management content combined to heighten my nerves today. People are often surprised when I share with them that at times I get nervous when facilitating or presenting. It takes me awhile to convince them it is true.

Nervous Energy is…Energy

Certified as a Master Trainer 15 years ago, my instructor told me if you are nervous, it means you still care. I agree with that to a point. I do not believe the reverse is true, that is, if you are not nervous you do not care. While under most circumstances I am not nervous, I do still deeply care about my clients, participants, and yes, my reputation. Each time I put myself out there I am representing me, my values, my business, my brand. I care my clients achieve their desired outcome, and that my participants have a good experience. I care that I am perceived as professional and capable.

When coaching others on public speaking or facilitating I always remind them that nervous energy is just that…energy. I used some of that excess energy by going for a short walk before my session. I read a mindless novel for 20 minutes. My Spotify playlist was the Top Hits of 1984. I channeled the rest of my energy in to the session. As expected, once it started my nerves settled. A huge thank you to Amelia and Drew at IAP2 Canada for supporting me emotionally and technologically throughout the event. Also, huge thanks to the IAP2 training committee for taking a chance on me as a new trainer with a new topic. We ended up with 70 people attending today from all parts of Canada, United States and Southern Africa. Let’s hope the Taster entices enough of them to register for the full course in May! ~ Carole

I forgot an important date yesterday!

April 6, 2021

I forgot an important date yesterday! Four years ago on April 5, 2017, my position was eliminated with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. As I remember every part of that day so clearly, I am surprised I forgot the anniversary of that event yesterday.

The day began five weeks before. In February I learned I would have to compete for my job against my current colleagues. For five weeks I went to work every day knowing that there was no good outcome for me. If successful, my position would move to St. John’s. Alternatively, the other outcome was not being successful and therefore not having a job.

During those weeks I had many visitors to my office. My clients were incredibly supportive and encouraging. Many were friends and they constantly checked in on me to make sure I was okay. Many brought gifts to brighten my day.

No photo description available.
A cheerful bouquet from a client and dear friend.

That day started like most; however, we quickly found out that it was going to be “the day”. The day when I found out if I still had a job. I received a phone call to set my appointment time. According to my colleagues I was the fourth meeting. My department was keeping only three positions. As a result, I knew my fate. I started a list of things to remember in the 15 minutes that I knew I would have to clean out my office. It included remembering to take my jam out of the fridge. I packed my toaster oven and other personal items that I had not yet brought home.

At my appointed time, I received the expected and unwelcome news I was no longer required in my position. Clients surrounded me as I was escorted out of the building. As it was near lunch time, and people saw me packing my car, there was an impromptu gathering of well-wishers, hugs, tears, and yes, laughs in the parking lot.

The support of so many of those clients has led to my success today. I remember thinking in the first year after that day that I must have done something right in my time at the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. I still have strong connections to people from my time there. They are still checking in on me to see if I am okay. I must be okay if I forgot the anniversary of that day yesterday. ~ Carole

Becoming a Mentor

April 1, 2021

Becoming a mentor in the Atlantic Study & Stay NL program has given me unexpected rewards. After two years of saying no, I agreed to join the mentorship program for International students studying in Newfoundland and Labrador. The program encourages students to stay primarily in NL or Atlantic Canada once they have completed their studies.

When first asked, I was hesitant as a small business owner. I was not sure I could commit the time. I also truly wondered, What could I offer an International student? My business is not large enough to offer an internship, or a job. I have not been in business a long time so I really did not think I was a match for this program. I agreed to become a mentor when asked again as I saw it as a way to give back to my community; something which is important to me.

My mentee is a graduate student studying at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, in Corner Brook, NL. I immediately asked my daughter who is also a graduate student at this campus, if she knew my mentee. She did not.

At our first virtual meeting, we discovered that my mentee was a student in the Environmental Assessment course I attended as a guest lecturer a couple of years ago discussing project management and team-building. That helped make a connection and seemed to put him at ease. We chatted about his journey to Grenfell and his hopes and aspirations. I suggested a few things to work on and we agreed to meet again in a month’s time.

At our last meeting, something unexpected happened. I found myself caring about him as an individual, not just a monthly commitment. His lack of a social network, the impact of isolation due to COVID-19, and the weariness he is experiencing as he tries to complete his thesis is concerning to me. I felt like I was talking to my daughter who is also in the last stages of her thesis writing and is finding it tiring. I feel like I shifted in to “mom” mode rather than “mentor” mode. We talked about self-care, expanding his social network, and finding that motivational spark he needs to complete his degree.

Becoming a mentor has touched me in ways that I did not expect. I have discovered that it is not a “role” I have to play; it is simply being myself. Sharing my experience, providing a new perspective has allowed me to discover unexpected gifts within myself. Connecting with a young man who made a journey from his country to ours, looking to make a difference, has been heartwarming. I am looking forward to our next call in a couple of weeks. ~ Carole

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