A Mother's Gift

As I contemplated how I wanted to start my blog this evening, I caught the words from Jann Arden's new song, “These are the Days”, on a friend's FB post…"These are the days to kick ass. To be yourself. To challenge your mind and your body and your spirit. To be filled with bravery and courage and drive. Be in the now. Be in the moment. Be present." That's it; that's the start I'm looking for my story about trying to raise three resilient teenagers to realize their dreams and to be responsible members and contributors to our community.

As a Microsoft career mum of 23 (nearly 24) years, you might think technology and writing blogs would be second nature to me, however, when Christina approached me and asked me to write a blog for her Ethereal site launching this week to celebrate the Ethereal Mother Collective I was both flattered and nearly nauseous with anxiety. Other than my fair share of email, which I would like to think I have developed a skill for, I've never written more than a greeting card - more recently a LinkedIn post; I wondered what value I had to offer to other women aspiring to raise confident and independent beings. But with an encouraging word or two from a young girl I've watched grow up and face adversity head on, I felt empowered to tell my story and to honour Christina with the respect she deserves as well as to demonstrate the same confidence I lean on my kids to display.

I'm constantly looking for sources of inspiration to help me guide my children; it's the most important job I have. So for the first time ever, (I'm almost ashamed to confess) I participated in International Women's Day, IWD, celebrations last week and found countless sources of inspiration. First, I spent the morning listening to a young CEO/Entrepreneur, Riya Karumanchi, talk about her desire to use technology to better people's lives which lead to her invention, a Smart Cane that she designed to help the visually impaired make their way around their homes and their communities independently; at the age of 14 she is already changing the world; what an incredible role model for all and especially young girls. I was then off to the office to listen to another all-star lineup of motivational speakers who talked about the importance of developing a thick skin, of not being afraid to stand out, to build your network, to be creators and innovators - not just consumers; to ask for mentorship and to be a mentor because as a mentor and/or mentee, you will be 6 x more likely to be promoted and 27 x more likely to get stretch assignments; you will be 15 x more likely to be paid more and 72% more likely to keep your job YET 67% of women have no mentorship experience and they are 57% less likely to be sponsored for career advancement and why is this?

Yeah, it's simply because we don't ASK!

So what did I take away from that for myself and for my daughters and my son too? Say YES to mentorship; be a mentor and ask for a mentor; prepare to have meaningful discussions with your mentee or mentor, and encourage others, men and women to do the same.

Women have to be more declarative and use the right to "PAUSE" to communicate the way they want to be heard; only 7% of communication is verbal so it's critical to make what you say meaningful and impactful; conversely 55% of communication is non-verbal so body language is key

Imagine Wonder Woman standing tall with her hands on her hips and her chest proud,

Channel your inner Beyoncé,


The final IWD impression I want to share is a LinkedIn post from another CEO, Sara Margulis from Honeyfund.com. Sara summarizes three Go-Do's as the keys to success:

1. Show Up

2. Step Up

3. Speak Up.

These actions resonate with me more than ever in a time ridden with controversy and inequity. Despite my own issues about confidence, I've always managed to find the courage to challenge my kids to show up and get involved in things that are meaningful to them and to their beliefs regardless of whether it makes them popular or not.

I asked them to step up and be a leader when the easy thing is to stand back and follow and to speak up when they know something isn't right even if they fear the fallout of what's safe. Feeling all mighty after nearly finishing my first blog, I dare say I’ll be more present in IWD next year!

We take all of these measures to protect our children and we hope that during the short, borrowed time that we have with them that we've taught them:

To be their best selves,

To make good choices when we are not there to do it for them,

To develop the resilience to deal with ambiguity such as the certainty of bad teachers, bad friends, bad boyfriends/girlfriends and bad bosses,

To have the compassion to help those in need

To dream their biggest dreams and to achieve their highest potential

To develop the future-ready skills that they’ll need for the jobs they’re going to have that don't even exist today.

How do we meet these challenges? Well, it takes a village; it takes partnerships with our schools, with industry and most importantly, in my opinion, it takes love and patience and a conversation, a check-in with our kids to make sure they are okay on any given day and an understanding that it may fluctuate based on a variety of influences any given day but I hope my kids know I will be there for them on any given day and that we will find a way or make one!

The things that make us different are the things that make us special.

By Karen Truyens, @ktruyens

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