Decades without a #WOMANUAL: My TWENTIES

decades evolutionary woman liftasyouclimb qbe womanual Aug 10, 2020

My twenties included my first divorce, a second husband, a second baby and the purchase of two houses.

Our homes were revolving doors for younger siblings, friends, and well-intentioned in-laws, and often the social hub of our community.

I always worked full-time, pausing only for three months post-natal leave. As exhausted as I often was, I loved the challenge of learning new skills and adding to my QBE credentials. As it happened in my teens, I would again become the primary breadwinner of my family in my twenties. I had plenty of motivation to up-level my income.

Our first home, a new build, three-bedroom town house, cost $38,000.00. The mortgage terrified me, but it was a wonderful education on investing wisely in real estate. I regret that most young couples do not have this starting advantage today.

The mid 1970s to mid-1980s were a wonderful time to cultivate friendships with other young families, share resources for childcare, power tools and entertainment on a budget. We stretched our incomes and maximized our fun. You could tell whose Mom had returned from grocery shopping with popsicles for the neighborhood by the number of sticky faces on her front step.

We were all growing as parents and adults and became each other’s support. Looking back, we’d created a community mastermind and saw each other through a lot of ups and downs. I’ve lost touch with most of those couples over moves and decades, but I am forever grateful for their contribution to my development.

This decade was crammed with personal growth as I discovered what I liked and to appreciate myself as a young and vibrant woman. Until I turned twenty, I did not have a clue about personal taste, what I liked or even how to say ‘No’ to people or things I did not like.

Right off the farm and a broke teen parent, any surplus funds I had were saved to buy the Fisher Price must-have toy of the season.   

My wardrobe might have been described as flower child meets Daisy Mae until one of my employer’s mentored me. I will always be grateful to that stylish, mature entrepreneur for teaching me that women should invest in themselves. She showed me how to look confident and dress for respect, without sacrificing femininity and authenticity. Her name was Verna and she is one of the early role models for my Lift As You Climb mantra that is a code of conduct forty years later.

I explored cooking outside of my Mother’s farmers’ menu and decorating with joyful abandon with foiled wallpaper, a Star Wars themed bedroom for my son, and a hand-crafted coffee table made by my handy husband.

Countless games of Trivia Pursuit were played on that coffee wife, table, thousands of miles of cross-country trails were skied, and the occasional camping trip got us away from the city. 

Those years went by in a blur of bill paying, children’s activities, career hurdles, me blended-family dynamics, and growing pains as we grew as a family and the girl became a woman.

Often, I struggled to live up to my own expectations of Super Mom, Super Wife, Super Friend and I forgot that I had no instructions, no Womanual.

I survived. I thrived. I learned a great deal. My story and where it lead me is told in depth in

Looking back to my twenties, some of the most valuable things I learned were:

  • Parents are not handed a manual for each child,
  • My Mother was much smarter and far braver than I knew,
  • The only wrong decision you can make is to not make one,
  • Always make time to play,
  • Volunteer anyway. Learn as you go,
  • Have a rainy-day fund because – guaranteed – there will be showers,
  • Wash your face every night and wear sunscreen every day,
  • Shaving cream pies freeze solid and can break your nose,
  • Friends are treasures, invest in them and they will invest in you.
  • Girls grow into women, but the little girl still lives within. Be kind to her.