Success My Way and Missing Jean

Friday was International Women’s Day and I spent the day at an offsite event (if you need an event space, the Jewel Ballroom is great) with work colleagues, both men and women, at a lovely venue called the Jewel Ballroom. My company holds annual IWD events globally and this year’s theme was “Success My Way”.

Social media has increasingly become a component for events like this, particularly at our Vancouver events throughout the year – due to the efforts of a social media savvy colleague. And so with the hashtags #successmyway and #IWD13Van we (I think the word is) trended and tweeted our definitions of success, photos and thoughts for the day.

For me, success is:

  • Strong mind, body, heart (physical and and emotional), and soul – I think I’m pretty strong and can only get stronger. It’s why I exercise, eat well, and take care of myself as best I can.
  • Having fun and being happy.
  • Financial security – I’m not there yet, but I will be.
  • Recognition – I don’t need to be showered with praise but it’s nice to be recognized when I do a good job.
  • My body clicking in to a yoga complex pose and the incredible joy that I feel when that happens.
  • Adapting to whatever, wherever, whenever.
  • Getting what I want.

What is your definition of success?

Being adaptable – roll with it with grace. (Even if you aren’t feeling gracious!)
IWD 2013
Me with my friend Camille.
IWD 2013 2
Some samples of the day’s #successmyway contributions.

We had a speaker named Tracy Theemes and she was a great addition to the day. She chatted with me a bit before her talk and told me she was going to “shake things up a bit” so that we were also thinking about success, not just as what’s around us, but for ourselves – which meant that she was going to remind us that it’s okay to view making money and a promotion as success in terms of entitlement (and feeling good about that). It provided for lively discussion.

Yesterday, I attended the memorial service and celebration of life for my Uncle Ken’s mother, Jean, who recently passed away. As the minister(?), my uncle, and my cousin Tanya talked about Jean and the spectacular woman that she was I thought about what Tracy spoke of. It made me realize that while we as women are entitled to the same salary, promotions, etc as men, that hasn’t really been the view of the world until recently, and even now, there is still a battle for equality. but it all depends, I think, on what is important to you.

Jean was a single mom before it was a term or even accepted. She raised two boys on her own, had immense pride, a great sense of humility and responsibility, and a spine of steel. Miss Jean had moxie. Times were hard but she always made it work. Her definition of success was that her boys were taken care of, no matter what. That is what was important.

If a man had been in her situation, it probably would have been easier. But she was a trailblazer and lived a full life of 93 years. Before the the eulogy, the minister/chaplin made it open floor for anyone who wanted to say anything about Jean, and while I did, If I had, no one would have been able to understand me. I would have been a blubbery mess. And so I’m writing what I would have said:

Jean taught me to play solitaire, delighted me with her dry wit, and always told it like it like it was. (As Tanya put it, “Granny Jean was keeping it real before it was an expression.”) While I was not her grandchild, she treated me like I was – and I feel so honoured. The picture below was shown in the slide show at the service. It’s from what I assume is a few Christmases ago. And she clearly had just said something hilarious, because I am laughing and she looks like she knows what she said was hilarious. She always made me laugh.

Jean and Me

She wore hearing aids for as long as I can remember but I think she hated them. She read lips very well but when the conversations were all over the place at family events, she played her cards so as not to feel embarrassed or self-conscious. I was a pretty quiet kid so she and I were kindred spirits. We played “solitaire” together.

I remember when my Granny Slim died about 10 years ago there were a lot of people at her service, and there was a receiving line. I understand the purpose of this for a wedding and to a certain extent, a funeral, but I could not handle all the relatives and friends giving their condolences and telling me “my how you’ve grown!”…

I told my dad that I couldn’t stand there anymore, and while normally he would have dealt me the propriety card, he took one look at me and knew that his daughter was not in a good place. And so he patted my arm and I went to go hide. Jean saw me and patted the seat of the empty chair next to her. She put her arm around me and this and this was our conversation:


How are you doing, kid?


Not good, too many people.


You stay here with me. Everyone knows I can’t hear a damn thing so they’ll leave us both alone.

I miss her.

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