Category Archives: business

The Enemy Within

Enough. I have had enough. This past week, I received some test results that made me question why I ever listened to anyone who could not see my worth as a business woman. It is pathetic because I have struggled most of my life to be taken seriously as a business woman for a variety of reasons, and there it was, in black and white, that I had slowly over the years begun to believe all the garbage thrown my way. My ex used to get in my face about it and accused me of giving up on my business career all too soon. I absolutely hate to admit it, but he was right, in a sense. I had all but given up at that point. He may have had ulterior motives and never understood my need to become a teacher, but he was right. In spite of everything I’d been taught over the years by my parents, my dad in particular, I’d let others’ opinions of me matter when they should not. I just needed to get on with it and do what I need to do.

I feel as though I’ve been fighting an uphill battle since kindergarten. Until then, I didn’t realize that my body was that different from other girls my age – or that my self-worth in school (at least when it came to peers) as a female depended upon society’s arbitrary perception of physical beauty, athletic ability, and precious little else. I eventually made peace with the situation and focused on my education. I foolishly thought that things would change once I entered the workforce after college. The focus may not have been entirely on outward appearances, but it was still there. When combined with perceived notions of power and society at large, I really didn’t have much of a chance. Their loss, not mine.

Fortunately, I am meant to be a teacher. I hope I do have the opportunity to teach business classes. I also hope to teach my students, no matter what subject, that character counts. Practical and theoretical knowledge matters. It isn’t all about outward appearances. I will also teach them to have faith in themselves and not to let others damage their self-worth. It is too important. Everyone struggles with insecurities. Don’t let them define you or stop you from doing anything. Life is simply too short.

The thing is that I knew all of this back in high school, and yet, I allowed myself to be worn down by an awful economy and a lack of professional guidance, among other things. I began to doubt myself when I needed the self-confidence the most. Never again. I am done letting others define me, whether as a teacher, a business woman, a writer, and eventually, a mother. Only I know my whole story. Until you do, don’t judge. I firmly believe that everyone has a story. I just wish more people recognized this and were not so quick to judge.

Leading By Example

admiration

http://nothingbutbonfires.com/2011/06/sixty-years-memories

As my brother, sister, and I work on a project for our Mom’s 60th birthday (see link above for more information on what we are doing), I can’t help but think about role models.  It is clear from the letters we’ve received so far that my Mom left a lasting impression on at least a few of her students.  Those letters, preparing for student teaching in the fall, all combined with working with my parents and brother on a daily basis at the canoe livery make it clear that I am once and for all right where I need to be.

I do not remember a time when I did want to be like my Grandpa B. and my Dad when I grew up.  I loved my Mom dearly, but I never wanted to be “just” a teacher (how awful this sounds now).  In the case of my little sister, that is all she ever wanted to be.  In fact, I admired her for her determination and having the sense of self to know what she wanted to do with her life from the time she was born.  I just knew that I needed to create.  I’m not sure when I made the connection between business and creativity, but I did.  I watched as my parents grew their business throughout my childhood.  I watched as Grandpa B. grew his during the same time period.  The funny thing is that as much as I admired both Grandpa and my Dad, they had vastly different visions for their businesses.

Neither my Dad or Grandpa started their respective businesses.  My parents purchased Russell Canoe Livery from my Grandma Reid, my Dad’s mom.  In the case of my Grandpa, he took over his grandfather’s business with his younger brother.  After my Dad lost his father to cancer, he and Grandma Reid kept the business running.  When my parents married in 1977, they purchased the canoe livery too.  I saw the early sacrifices they made to grow their business, and even though no one expressly said so, I always believed that my Dad was more concerned with creating a business around our family’s lifestyle than business itself.  During the summer business came first, but there always seemed to be time to make memories of our own as a family.

Grandpa, on the other hand, truly loved the convenience store business.  During summer time trips to the UP (the Upper Peninsula for those not from Michigan), we would stop at his convenience stores to see how things were going.  He constantly sought to expand his business and enter into new business ventures.  My Dad sought to innovate at the canoe livery as well, and did so successfully; however, he never had an interest to expand into new business opportunities.  As I later managed one of Grandpa’s convenience stores for a short time, I learned so much from both men.

Only fairly recently did I fully appreciate my Mom’s role in the success of the canoe livery.  As I have taken on more of her responsibilities, I have a new respect for all of those summers she worked while other teachers took much needed time off.  She continues to be the glue that makes everything work.  Late in her teaching career the superintendent at the time asked her why she never pursued her Master’s degree (she ended up with the equivalent).  She simply stated that she was too busy spending her summers building a business.  I include that here because it illustrates just how under appreciated my Mom’s contributions to the family business can be at times.  There is no doubt that my Mom had a successful 32 year teaching career.  I argue that her nearly 40 year career as a co-owner of a family business is just as successful.  She worries about how our Crystal Creek Campground will run without her.  As a future owner, I worry as well.  Our Crystal Creek customers love her, and I can’t imagine Crystal Creek without her.

The funny thing is that I am largely following in her footsteps.  Not Dad’s.  Not Grandpa B.’s.  Those men taught me so much about business and impacted my career in thousands of ways, but it is my Mom’s example I will follow.  I plan to teach and spend my summer’s continuing to build Russell Canoe Livery with my brother.  If I am half as successful as my Mom as both teacher and small business owner, I will do well.

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The "back yard" of my childhood home:  Crystal Creek Campground.

The “back yard” of my childhood home: Crystal Creek Campground.