My self-styled life: A Progress Report

I haven’t relayed much about my own life in a while (mainly because I haven’t written much of anything in a while, something I’ve held a lot of guilt and self-disappointment about). Here’s an update:

Two and a half years ago, my husband and I came back from a trip to England and Scotland and decided we needed a change–of jobs and location. So we packed up and moved to Toronto to open our own jewellery store. We knew the economy wasn’t great, but calculated that if we could ride it out until things picked up, we’d be in a great spot to build a thriving business.

Our Storefront

Well, a couple of things happened. First, I got pregnant not long after we opened the store. Linden was a good helper in the store for the first six months of her life, but there’s no way I could be running a store and running after a toddler, which I now do all day!


While babies seem so helpless and harmless, the truth is, they rule us (but we don’t mind).

Secondly, the economy never picked up — in fact, it’s still sluggish, especially for retailers. We made the tough decision to close our store at the end of April 2013, after a year and a half. To some, it was too soon to give up. But while we never expected instant success, we felt that we could not keep on when all signs were still pointing to a rough road for retail. (And as we’ve seen store after store on our street close, our decision has sadly been validated.)


Most success stories have at least one chapter of failure tucked in among the triumphs. While we loved our store and our customers, and closing the store was gut-wrenching, we have changed direction fairly smoothly and are happy with how things are going now. Mike has worked his butt off into a great job, enjoying the benefit of a Master’s degree. I currently stay home with Linden and take care of a friend’s baby a few days a week, I’m working on a website to sell our jewellery, and I hope to keep writing and perhaps finding new opportunities with that.

When I take a moment to evaluate our current life, I actually feel I am on the path I’ve always seen for myself–less of a career person, and more of a multiple-sources-of-income-to-support-a-happy-life person. I’m beginning to see a framework to my life that makes a lot of sense. In fact, I knew I had written it down before, and here it is, from the self-styled life’s very first post:

I’m starting to dream up my own model. To me, the perfect picture is this: I am essentially a stay at home wife and eventually, maybe, mother… I want to create that perfect home… But I do other things too, either part-time or from home. With any luck, it’s writing. Or maybe a cleaning business, yoga instructor… I build a career that is varied, flexible and reflective of who I am, and my value in our life is measured not just on my income but also the home I create. I want a successful life, not just a successful career.

This isn’t the end of my journey, of course. There’s still ambition here–to keep learning and improving, to develop professionally in whatever opportunities I come across–it’s not like I’ve reached some final goal. But while I can see a life of adventure, change, growth, and movement ahead, I am also feeling pretty settled in the Right Now, and that is a very nice feeling.



7 responses to “My self-styled life: A Progress Report

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  4. Jean! I love your framework – I am striving to create my perfect framework for life and there have been challenges along way. It’s all a delicate balance. Glad to read that you and family are healthy and happy!

  5. I was always attracted to your name for your blog “self-styled life”. So happy for you that the transitions are working. What a difficult decision that had to have been to close the store. What a charming store front. It reminds me of “shop girl” in “You’ve got mail” having to close her shop. But life is not a movie, it’s real with every day chores, baby added into the equation and making logical decisions within your circumstances at a particular time. Good to hear from you and read your words.

    • Thank you, Georgette! Yes, It was very difficult. We really loved having that store and we put so much into it. Our customers really loved it, too. It was a beautiful space to be in every day! We feel lucky in a way that we were forced by the reality of a growing family to make the tough call and be very honest about the situation. And we’re lucky that it seems to be working for the best! As always, thanks for reading! 🙂

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