Updated: Aug 9, 2019
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
This line of poetry, first published in 1992 by American poet Mary Oliver in her poem "The Summer Day", is a touchstone in many lives, my own included, and it reminds us to spend our days honouring who we are and what we are meant to do.
We all have bucket lists designed to honour who we are. Travel. Start a family. pursue higher education. Run a marathon. Grow a garden. Read more. Meditate. Drink more water. Drink more good wine. Love. Be loved.
One item on my bucket list is entrepreneurship.
Some of my earliest memories involve me trying to running my own business. At seven, I organized my books so I could rent them to friends. (Yes, I had heard about a library. But loaning for free wasn't going to get cash in my pocket!). At eight, I talked my sister into digging a bit hole in our backyard so that we could fill it with water and charge customers for a swim in our "pool". At twelve, I poured my heart into crafting products to sell in a craft shop or at the church bazaar. I dreamed of owning a place of my own - a small cottage where I could set up shop, selling crafts and serving tea. This dream biz, dubbed "Briar Rose" didn't get far (turns out that banks don't give biz loans to kids!), but the thought of working for myself, in service to others, never left me.
Growing up, I was a creative, but super organized kid. Did I have every pencil crayon colour, fabric remnant and pretty button I could get my hands on? You bet. But I also knew to talk my parents into buying me slick storage systems to organize all of that stuff. Christmas 1990 brought me a 30 drawer compartment bin from Canadian Tire in which I could categorize my crafty bits and baubles with ease. When I started a family of my own, organizing became a necessary survival skill in a home that had to serve two working parents and 2 kids.
Routines and organizing systems calmed the chaos in my home during those early family years and paved the way to a healthy, functioning family life. Most days ;)! Landing spots and easy-to-access bins in front entryways made coming and going a bit less stressful; a kitchen cupboard dedicated to kids craft items meant the littles could act on their own creative impulses whenever they wanted; weekly, simple home keeping routines kept items in their place. And I minimized. I minimized before minimalism was a thing - keeping only those books, toys and craft items that we needed and loved in that moment of our lives. Less stuff meant less things to worry about, less things to pick up, less clutter to look at, and less overwhelm for the kids - and their mama. The investment of time I made in organizing my home has paid itself back tenfold - I am more at peace, and I feel my family is too, with rhythms and routines to structure our days and organizing systems to help us manage our stuff.
My passion for organizing and customer service led me down a path other than entrepreneurship in my university years. I pursued an Masters in Library and Information Studies, and spent the first two decades of my working life in libraries. The "book" part of it is great, but the customer service, project management and my ability to help others turn what feels like large, complex problems into simple bite-size steps is what fuels my passion for the profession. Librarianship also sparked another passion of mine - support and helping. You might have a vision of a cardigan clad, bun wearing librarian shushing everything in sight, but in reality, librarianship is a helping profession, and I have had the privilege of helping everyone from stressed out grad students to homeless couples figuring out where they were going to sleep once the library closed for the evening. Coaching, supporting & guiding customers and colleagues made up much of each day.
But even while working in a career that I love, the dream of entrepreneurship remained. A minor surgery in early 2019 put some unexpected free time into my hands to think and reflect on what I wanted from my "one wild and precious life".
I knew it was time to go for it.
Breathing Space came together pretty quickly after that. The name was a phrase that I have uttered many times during busy, full or stressful times in my life - I have always instinctively known when I have needed some breathing space in my own life. Organizing and coaching were already my jam: I had been taking courses through the Professional Organizers in Canada and had received executive coach training through the Roy Group to support my professional work. I hooked up with a business coach (shoutout to Jen Obermeier of the Inspired Organized Network!) and a coaching coach (with love to Kathy Stowell of the Mama Bliss Coaching School) to get the biz end of things running, and here I am.
I'm working with families to organize schedules, routines, closets & pantries - and working with mamas to help them uncover their values and coach them to live those values by focussing on simplicity, self care and creativity. Organizing and coaching are a wonderful compliment to librarianship, an I am fortunate to be able to balance both professions in my life.
When I think about what I would most like my clients to take away from the experience of working with me is the feeling of peace that comes with knowing they are living the life they want to lead. I want my clients to have the sense of calm that comes with knowing that they have only those items that they need or love in their home, and to feel breathing space in their lives, knowing there are now easy to use, manageable systems and routines in place to keep items accessible and hearts centered. I want my clients to love their home and lives again.
And ultimately, I want to give them, through an organized home or a centered soul, the time and space to figure out what they too want to do with their "one wild and precious life".
The Summer Day
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?