This year, I find myself thankful for the life I have led. The choices made, a majority of them my own, choices that have brought me to where I find myself today.

I thank my parents for raising me on a 40-milking-head, Holstein-Freisen dairy farm where, as a child of 6 or 7, I could wander through nature and watch it unfold. I could climb trees and figure out how to get back down on my own. I could run free in our 400 acres of fields and forests, never concerning myself with trespassing. I could boldly meander through our herd of cows, unafraid, opening gate after gate to each field, in the course of bringing them home for evening milking. It never seemed to be work.

I could pick damsel plums, pears, apples, black cap berries, choke cherries, goose berries… all for fun. I knew all the spots on farm that had the best wild trees and bushes. No one ever wondered where I was or who I was with. I was safe on the farm. I was never taught ‘Stranger-Danger’. I was taught to be polite and say, “Hello” when you pass someone on the street… even if you didn’t know them. It was called, ‘being neighbourly.”

I had pets! I had 3 dogs (Pepper, Brandy, and Muffin), cats (Dutchess, Suki, and many barn cats), 3 white rabbits (Honey Bun, Tulip, and Panda), 2 pair of gerbils (Sonny & Cher and then Tom & Jerry), fish, birds, a guinea pig, a horse (Natasha), and of course the cows. We had chickens when I was very little (2 or 3). Our rooster at the time, who could run faster than me and thought my calves were going to be his next meal saw an untimely end at the hands of my Dad. Our chicken flock gradually dwindled after that.

As I grew into a young woman of 12 or so, I began to learn what could be achieved with hard work, determination and inventiveness. While my mother was ensuring I would be able to “keep a house,” tomboy that I was, I’d sneak out and spend as much time as possible outdoors, and many hours watching my father repair farm machinery or anything that required fixing. He would help out neighbouring farmers as well. He had even taught himself how to weld. It was a good skill for a farmer to have.

I remember Dad’s words clearly, “Now Susie, don’t look at the spark. It will blind you.” I must have heard it a million times and about 999,999 times, I peeked after I covered my eyes. I wear three different strengths of perscription glasses now. I wonder. 😉

Dad could repair anything. He recycled long before the idea was fashionable or commonplace. If handed a sow’s ear, I believe he would have made that proverbial silk purse. He taught me to think things through and solve my own problems. There was no Google, nor Youtube back then but we did have a wonderful second-hand children’s set of encyclopedia to learn from … and the ATLAS… I loved it… but that’s another story for another day. On the problem solving front, without the aid of a young person and little time for courses it’s a slow slog to translate that skill into the technology aspect of my company but I’m making progress.

I thank my mother for teaching me how to cook, bake, sew, and take care of a home. I thank her for insisting I take typing as an elective course in grade 10 when I wanted to take art. I have used my typing skills for most of my adult life. I used them for 11 years while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces as a Communicator Research Operator, again for 17 of my 19 years a Lee Valley Tools and as you can see, knowing the QWERTY keyboard means less time writing my posts and more time creating Fancifulls. I’ve yet to develop the two-thumb skill of typing on my phone and I’m amazed to watch other people do it.

I’m thankful for my time spent serving in Canada’s Armed Forces. While serving, I learned about honour, friendship, responsibility, timing, working as a team, and I learned how much work I’m able to accomplish with little or no sleep. ( That part’s really working for me now.)

I’m thankful for the abilities taught to me by colleagues at Lee Valley Tools. Without these skills, Id find the transition to my current situation far more daunting. At Lee Valley, I learned about balancing inventory with sales, production times, packaging techniques, shipping and tracking of parcels, manufacturers vs. vendors, retailers vs. wholesalers, costing, profit margins, and the basics computer programs I use today to keep my company organized. Most importantly, Lee Valley has shown me that fairness and integrity still win the day and that backing a company guarantee that is worth its weight is the RIGHT thing to do.

In 3 short weeks, on November 1, 2019, I will be leaving Lee Valley after 19 enjoyable years. I was hired for 6 weeks. It almost sounds like a never-ending government contract… but no. As little as 4 months ago, I would never have guessed that I’d be leaving to run my own company full time. This is where my life has led. I took that fork in the road and a new journey begins.

For everything and for All of YOU, I give thanks.