“Blog-storming” a life plan

“Blog-storming” a life plan

Forming a plan. Not as easy as it sounds. I had this fantastic idea last night, that I just need to sit down and truly plan what I want out of my life. Hell!? Where do I begin? Short term? Long term? What aspect of my life? This isn’t a new idea I had, I’ve talked about it many times before. What makes me think THIS TIME, I can come up with something that makes sense and is doable?

I really don’t think that, but I know I must believe it. I am so tired of floundering and considering my options and my million interests and my assets… and my limitations.

Getting started

So, where do I begin? The big vision? Here’s an attempt: One day I hope to see myself with security, with a good quality of life where I need not worry about the future. Having been a mom and a woman making sacrifices for my family and my ideologies, I have very little in the way of a nest egg. I haven’t socked away a big savings, nor established a promising investment for my retirement years, or my children’s future. I would like to see myself able to travel where I choose, when I choose and how I choose. I would like to see myself able to provide the kind of support my family might need, in whatever form that might take. I want to be confident I can take care of life’s surprises, including my (and my family’s) health as well as humanly possible. I want to know that I contribute to a better, more equitable society.

While I’ve always had a lot of ideas of ways I’d like to contribute to society through my career and benevolence, I know that deep down I’d like to find a way to do that while self-employed. Yet, I do not feel confident taking the full-blown plunge into self-sufficiency (i.e. leaving my job and opening a business). However, I have taken the first step towards making it possible, by securing a part-time job in my field that leaves me with time for my family and my other interests and endeavours. Now what is the next step? How/when do I know to take the plunge into a sea of possibilities and unknowns?


What are my dreams? Realistic options? My priorities? And in what order do I pursue them?

Here’s an in-exhaustive list:
Master’s degree
Social business: bookswap & fair trade coffee
Help to establish a Not-for-profit childcare facility (or lobby for public daycare)
Sustainable home (eco-friendly & efficient)
Involved parenting
Significant role in a cause that I’m passionate about
Physical fitness
Accomplishment of at least one of my hobbies/interests (photography; learning another language; musical instruments; etc.)
an orderly, yet comfortable home

What comes first?

What are the immediate priorities for me? I don’t see this as numbered in a sequential order, but more organic in nature. Parenting is at the top of the list to be certain – and with this means juggling the unique needs of a family that is non-traditional: 4.5 years separated/soon-to-be-divorced; and shared custody with their military dad who lives in a neighboring province. Self-employment is something I’d like to begin working towards, and think some of my other dreams fit in towards realizing this (i.e. consulting/freelancing). Advocacy/activism is inherent in my life, but I would like to make it a bigger part of what I do outside of my job – it’s time to assess where my greatest passions are. Physical fitness has to be one of the top priorities. Self care is of course a priority. Aside from my physical health, I acknowledge the need to make time for me. I will pick just one activity to pursue further, a little bit at a time – photography.

Down the road

Where does that leave some of the other dreams? The Master’s degree is something I’d like to pursue sooner, rather than later. I can table this consideration to a slightly later date – deadlines for Canadian Universities are somewhere around December or later for entry into the Fall 2011 start cohort. The social business, may or may not happen – something to keep in my back pocket for now. The childcare centre may fall into the advocacy work that I want to do, or may be something to consider becoming involved with down the road. Consulting/freelancing could easily be an avenue for some of my top priorities and should be a strong consideration for immediate future/present work. Politics is definitely a down-the-road consideration for personal participation, but again could fall in with some advocacy work in the near future. Travel is always something I do, if only in small ways (i.e. daytrips & short vacations). One day when I do not have two young children whose lives would be so greatly disrupted, this will move up on the list of priorities. Gardening can happen when we find the time/money to make some changes to our property. For now, I make small progress in the bits that currently exist. A sustainable home is something that we take baby steps toward everyday. We do the manageable pieces like recycling, changing light bulbs and turning off lights, flushing selectively, etc. One day I’d like to make a bigger investment into equipment that will allow us to reduce our footprint far more substantially. This too will have to wait until we have the financial resources to pursue it further. Playing a significant role in a cause that I’m passionate about, will happen as my advocacy work unfolds. At some point, I will know that I am really making a difference. First I need to find my focus. Accomplishment of at least one of my hobbies/interests is something I can make small steps towards, but I may need to table the really big work until a later stage in my life. Having an orderly, yet comfortable home is something I am continuously trying to achieve. I never feel like I’m “there”, but do feel like there have been big steps in the right direction. With so many other interests, I just have to accept this will never entirely be, without the financial means to hire someone else to maintain it for me. 🙂

So not exactly a plan, but the first step in forming one. After a short break, I will come back to this (today) to try to eek one out.

To recap, my main focuses will be (in no particular order): parenting; becoming self-employed; activism; physical fitness; and hobby: photography.


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We must start to give a damn!

Considering sending this to our local paper(s) as a Letter to the Editor type piece.  I would value feedback to help me polish it up:

We must stop paying lip-service to caring and giving, like we all do. Sure we believe we live in a fantastic city, province, country and society where we all care about one another. But is this really true? Do you care about your neighbors? …regardless of whether they live the same lifestyle as you?

I’m not just talking the neighbors next-door to your stable home, but the neighbors you see when you walk/bike/drive down the street, the neighbors who work near you, the neighbors you see on a daily basis and look right through.

Do you care about the people who aren’t related to you? Do you care about those who practice different cultural traditions? Do you care about the people whose skin color is different? Whose native tongue is not the same? Do you care about the neighbors of varying abilities? Do you care about those who are unemployed? How about those struggling to get by on social assistance? Do you care about the homeless?

I want you to really think about this for a minute. We all say we care. We say we live in a society where no one should have to go without the basic necessities of life. Not all of us agree that society should look after one another. But we all seem to agree that we wouldn’t want our children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, grandparents, or even friends to go without.

Yet, still 1 in 10 children in Canada have lives that feel the direct impact of poverty.

There are a lot of groups out there lobbying government to provide better support to help eliminate poverty, to help children break the cycle and get a start in life. However, I maintain that until citizens as a whole understand and view poverty and those effected by it with compassion, until we all take a stand and say “ENOUGH!” governments will not do enough. I know it’s often difficult to believe, but our government can do very little if it is not the will of the people.

Why must we make it our will to eliminate poverty?

I recently read a memoir of a child of poverty, named Tiny. Her book “Criminal of Poverty” gives a very clear picture of how it is next to impossible to climb out of the depths of poverty when growing up homeless in America. The deeper the depths, the harder it is.

Not having lived it, I can only imagine. When I think back on times when I was struggling to make ends meet, and how stressful it was to not be able to pay the bills, I recall just how much of my energy was drained of me. To be without food, housing, healthcare, etc. could only leave me entirely without energy or time to do anything. Being consumed with thoughts of where the next meal is coming from, how I am going to keep a roof over my family’s head one more month, week, night… Then to further escalate that with additional requirements for those I care for, I can only fathom the despair I might feel.

It is a documented fact that poverty breeds health issues, in a BIG, BIG way. It is the number one determinant of health. We MUST find a way to end the cycle and make a better life for our next generations.

Just consider if that person you walk so quickly past while turning your other cheek were your daughter or son, mother or father… and that the stranger walking by not giving a damn were someone other than you. Would you not hope, that someone for just an instance would see your loved one as a human being with needs that they are simple unable to meet, for whatever reason that may have befallen them? Would you not be grateful to that stranger for offering your loved one a hand up? Even so much as a hot drink, a kind word, or perhaps something much much more substantial?

Next time you walk on by, remember the person you see right through, has loved ones who only want the best for them too.

A concerned citizen,

Trish McCourt, BSW, SWC