That Was One Hard-Won Carrot!

It’s a good thing we can’t see all the things that come with fulfilling a vision.

When I imagine a future goal (like publishing a book, for instance) I see the finished outcome as a glowing present, wrapped in colorful paper and tied with a glittering bow. What I invariably fail to notice is that the fulfilled goal is held together with strong, reliable, ordinary tape.

Chances are, if I we knew what that tape represented, many dreams would be abandoned mid-vision.

Like parenting, for example.

How many people would actually become parents if they knew what it was going to require of them physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually? And speaking of the physical realm, we could back up to the moment of birthing the child that makes us a parent for life. How many women — if they truly knew what the birthing process entailed — would go through with it?

I’m convinced that the body releases a natural amnesiac that wipes out memory of the birth process — all we recall is the moment, at the end, when the baby arrives in our arms. Why else would women elect to do it again? Why else did I choose to do it a second time? I clearly remember the moment when things began in earnest during the delivery of my second son — ‘Oh, yeah. This is what it’s like. I forgot about this.’

When I decided to publish (read: birth) Leaf, I knew the learning curve would be steep. As I envisioned the gift-wrapped image of that final book-in-hand moment, I did my best to learn how to appropriately apply the tape that held the wrapping paper in place.  Despite all my research, however, I was still a little naive about everything that went into printing a book and a lot naive about marketing it, and I was totally unprepared for the accounting side of things.

In our family, the division of labour has me running the household and my husband taking care of ‘the books.’ I don’t much like numbers. Words are my thing. And Stephen loves playing with the numbers (I kid you not — he wakes up excited on a Saturday morning to settle into his office, coffee in hand, and play around with the family finances. Ugh!) So, even though there’s always been this niggling voice in the back of my head telling me I should pay more attention to things like insurance and mortgages and taxes and utilities and . . . oh my gosh, it’s exhausting just to list it all . . . and what if Stephen gets smacked by the cement truck–

[pause for an explanation of the cement truck image: it’s been with us since the early days of our marriage as in, ‘If I was hit by a cement truck, would you marry again?’ and ‘We better get a will done, in case one of us gets taken out by a cement truck.’ and ‘Have you thought about who we should ask to take the kids if we get shmucked by the cement truck?’ (Notice it went from being A cement truck to THE cement truck.)]

So, despite the cement truck, idling in a back alley, waiting for one of us to step out into traffic, I continued on my merry let-Stephen-take-care-of-the-finances way.

Until I had this ridiculous idea to publish a book. With that came creating a publishing company and with that came registering a business and with that came – gasp – keeping track of The Books (the mind-boggling snarl of accounting books, not to be confused with the the lovely escape of reading books).

Luckily, I had a wonderful friend who was willing to help me with this daunting task. Thanks to her (hello, Louann, my Bookkeeping Saviour!), I started to get a rudimentary grasp of the incomprehensible world of accounting. In fact, thanks to Louann, I was able to learn to appreciate the elegance of a balanced ledger and revel in that unparalleled Happy Dance Moment when Side A exactly matches Side B (I was going to say ‘when Side A rhymes with Side B.’ Ha! Told you I was a word person.)

Then life intervened and Louann had to hand The Books back to me and I faltered under the weight of it all, tossing everything into a laundry basket (let it be known that it was a lovely laundry basket — wicker, not plastic) and trying to ignore it’s bubbling, quicksand-like mass until I couldn’t any more and, after several failed attempts (I won’t even go into the details) I finally took it all to a local H & R Block lady and took copious notes while she patiently explained everything I needed to get to her so she could make sense of the snarl and so it was in April of 2014, I handed in my 2012 Turtle Dreams Books.


Unfortunately, the wicker laundry basket was not empty. There was still 2013 to tackle.

At which point, I went out and bought myself these:


My reward, for when I finished the 2013 Books.

They sat on my desk in all their enticing colorfulness, tempting me daily with their promise of creativity-gone-wild. As the weeks of avoiding the wicker laundry basket passed, I learned to avert my eyes when I sat down at my desk. Months into the stalemate, I considered turning the markers to face the wall, or removing them from my desk entirely. Their presence was a taunting reminder that the sourdough starter of receipts and invoices and bank statements I had left in the wicker laundry basket in April was now overflowing it’s boundaries.

Excuses abounded.

In the spring, I was busy with the Kickstarter project and launch of Down in the Jungle and author visits in Saskatchewan. June was Gabriel’s graduation. July was recovery from the hectic pace of the spring. August I drifted in a sea of depression after Gabriel boarded the plane for New Zealand. (A ONE-WAY ticket! When would I see my first-born again?) September started with a bang — our town’s fourth annual Arts Festival and several more week-long author visits in other provinces — followed by weeks of recovery/catch up/clean up time in their wake.

I know I could have procrastinated further, but there was this forboding sense, as 2014 began to draw to a close, that if I didn’t tackle The Books, my Turtle Dreams vision (which has expanded since the initial book publishing idea) would collapse. I needed to deal with the tape that holds the vision together.

I made a commitment — out loud — to a friend over tea that I would tackle The Books that weekend.

I enlisted the aid of my husband and son, who took over all cooking and meal clean-up duties while I took over the dining room table.

And after two full days of marathon effort,

I got to open up my markers!


 Oh Happy Day!!

(The first thing I did with my beautiful markers was create two special gift certificates for my two beautiful sons. One of them is downstairs waiting to be slipped into a Christmas stocking and the other one is in an overseas package winging it’s way to the other side of the planet for my globe-trotting son’s first Christmas away from home.)

Now that I’m on a roll, and finally have a system in place, I’m going to keep pecking away at the much-reduced heap in the laundry basket until it is gone, gone, gone. And the lovely wicker receptacle can fulfill another, more enjoyable function.

This time — yes, I’m going to throw caution to the winds and say this out loud, right here, in writing, for all the world to see — I commit to handing in my 2014 Turtle Dreams Books well before the June, 2014 deadline.

In fact, I think it will be one of my mid-May birthday presents to myself this year because the peace of mind that comes with having a huge job completed in a timely manner, without dragging of feet, gnashing of teeth or tearing of hair is . . . indescribable.

I wonder what carrot I could dangle in front of myself this time?

Suggestions anyone?

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6 Responses to That Was One Hard-Won Carrot!

  1. MJ says:

    Well done! From a sister who also prefers words to numbers. (And in a work setting when we talk about leaving work ready to hand off to others, I’ve taken to saying “what will happen if you “win the big one?” because it’s so much better to imagine than being hit by the proverbial bus – or cement truck!). If you “win the big one” you can hire a live-in bookkeeper. 🙂

  2. maxinespence says:

    Along with the cook, housekeeper, massage therapist and hair stylist. I like it, Marina!

  3. Lorien says:

    I was going to say, “Get a massage,” as your carrot, but you should probably just go ahead and get yourself a massage. You deserve it!

  4. maxinespence says:

    Yup! Got one booked, Lorien! And it’s going to be sooooo delicious!

  5. whoist says:

    You have such kind eyes Maxine 🙂 and those marker pens make me want to go out and get some myself!! What a great post, thank you.

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