You're the expert on 'reinvention' for a number of reasons: you raised and supported two children as a single mom, reinvented your career numerous times, and now, in your mid-sixties, are an expert on active aging. As such, what has your journey been and how can your experience benefit others?
Asked by Golden Girl Finance
From the age of 35 years old, when I discovered I wasn't the only woman in my husband's life (yes, he cheated), I have been determined to make my own way, find my path, and connect with influential people who could help me on my journey and sustain my appetite for a good life.
Single mom, but no martyr-mom
This path was in no way easy, smooth or without compromise. What I would not compromise was my resolve to provide a good life for my children and to maintain a sense of prosperity, however simple. Like my grandmother said 'even if you are poor, you don't have to look poor.' Thankfully, I inherited my mother's sense of style and flair for putting something together that looks current and elegant, but not trendy or cheap. You don't think that's important - ha, it opens doors, sweetheart - literally. If you look good and you feel good, you forget about how you look and show your true personality, talent and strength - the day unfolds with ease and grace - and all manner of support shows up.
Many travails, setbacks and surprises tested my faith, determination and resolve. My family was not in the picture to help me, which meant focusing on survival, as well as how to thrive. The end result: no partying, clubbing or getting out of control for the sake of flirting with some guy. Forget it! There was breakfast to prepare in the morning, soccer matches to witness, homework to oversee. I did attract a few men, but honestly, at that time nothing ever did quite work, and it took too much energy away from what was most important in my life...my kids.
All that said, being a martyr-Mom sabotages your own self-worth; the kids pick up on those emotions and everyone loses. The airlines have it right: administer the oxygen mask to yourself first - then you can take care of your children. Children learn by watching and mimicking. What this taught me is that there is no advantage to playing small. The universe did not create an awesome 'you' to play small. I aimed high.
From legal secretary to Expo start-up
When as a legal secretary, I heard there was an Expo planned in Vancouver for 1986, I walked into that office on my lunch hour to announce "I want to work here." (C'mon, I'm from Montreal and in 1967, we had a party to remember!) Vancouver had no idea what was coming down the pipe, but I did, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it, ahead of the rest. There were people to meet and things to do. I was hired.
It was intense work like nothing else I had experienced before and honestly, I would not want to work like that again. The pace couldn't be sustained for longer than a contract - a beginning and an end date. The good thing is...I'm really good with projects. Give me your cupboard to organize, give me your diet to map out - I'm your girl!
Expo'86 was a challenge, a thrill, a career builder, a connector, fun, exhausting, and a projectile to future paths. Expo'86 put Vancouver on the world map and it launched many careers in this city. There was no time to have extensive meetings and figure things out carefully - it had to be done now!
And here was the bonus...if we stayed to the end of the fair, a cash bonus was guaranteed. I bought a car. Our first wheels - a white Honda Civic = freedom. Without a car, your world is very compact; with a car, it's almost giddy. I can see someone shrugging 'what's the big deal?' Well in those days, a divorced woman had no credit opportunities - think about that for a minute.
The next adventure was a clean transition with Li Ka-shing of Hong Kong who bid and won the opportunity to develop the Expo'86 lands. Same turf. Many former Expo personnel. Another project. Very, very exciting. I can remember myself and 20 architects staked out on the top floor of an empty office building, and then building a company around the plans that won the development bid.
When Concord Pacific became established, I needed another change. I became the Executive Assistant to Canada's top investment counsel and learned some things about raising money, handling money, and handling people who had a tremendous amount of money. As part of that role, I undertook financial planning exams, which really helped me personally and made me a valuable player. When that private firm was sold to HSBC, I decided to venture off into the role of entrepreneur and formed a promotional products company with a delightful man who would become my husband, in 1998.
(A word: never work with your husband - you end up talking about invoices in bed and making placemats out of packing slips - ugh.)
It was during the 2nd year of my new marriage that I hit menopause like a brick wall, discovered Pilates - which changed my relationship with my body - and eventually, propelled me into another career...what I do now. I own and operate a private Pilates studio. I also became a certified Personal Trainer.
Some trainers are really young (I have shoes older than most). That doesn't stop me. I have depth and life skills youth can only imagine or read about.
Life lessons learned
Point is, never stop being curious, and learning and growing in experience by challenging yourself. Meet people. Stretch your boundaries. When your intentions are true, good things happen. The consequences of life do not make us...they reveal us.
Oh...and the 1998 wedding...hmmm...we divorced after 5 years! BUT, we always vacationed together and now live next door to each other. Yes, I'm sleeping with the guy next door! Obviously, we're not finished - it just looks different from how we thought it would be.
And you know what, that's life.