Today, for the very first time, I was described by someone, as a ‘mover and shaker’.


And she meant it in the traditional sense of someone setting up meetings and making business deals happen! (as opposed to someone who just ‘shakes’ when they ‘move’)

And wow, what a jarring thought it was, to think of myself as that.

Took me back, more than twenty-three years ago, when I was just dreaming about being a writer!

When my twin daughters were two years old and I had just started to take writing courses. When I was still babysitting up to five kids a day as well as taking care of my own three girls, for a total of eight kids. In fact wasn’t she one of the kids I used to take care of? At least for a while!

It was back when I’d be lucky if I made $200 a WEEK with my home daycare working from 6:45 am – about 6:00 pm five days a week, and now I make more than that in one HOUR!

Back before we’d ripped up the carpets in our modest home and they were still a stained matted mustard colour. Back when there was still hokey yellow-flowered wallpaper in the kitchen (that the kids had peeled off in places). And back when I had the old stove, where I had to prop the oven door closed with a broom handle because it was apt to fall open while I was baking.

Did I mention we were kind of poor back then?

I dreamed big dreams while I’d be changing diapers. I plotted plot twists while the kids played or watched Sesame Street and I was stirring that night’s supper on the stove so it wouldn’t burn.

And I scheduled the day so that all kindergarteners would be in afternoon kindergarten and all babies would be down for naps so there was a window of writing opportunity from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm.

I wrote my first five books that way.

And I dreamed of days when I’d go to LUNCH with an EDITOR. When I’d be in meetings with CHILDREN’S LITERATURE PEOPLE! When I’d attend CONFERENCES and speak to PACKED AUDIENCES!

And you know what?

All that I dreamed of has happened and I guess it’s human nature that I hardly noticed…until now.

When a business contact from Singapore emailed saying he’s coming to town and could I hook him up with people he should meet, I immediately fired off emails and set the wheels in motion to make the most out of his trip.

And when I told my friend about the arrangements she said, “Oh, so now you’re a mover and shaker.”

And I thought, “I guess I am.”

It’s so funny though.

Back when I was dreaming of this stuff…it was all about ‘ego’.

I thought it was so GLAMOROUS!

It actually isn’t.

It’s just work.

I have real objectives.

I want him to meet a particular author/illustrator Ruth Ohi, to be exact, because he’d asked me to recommend Canadian authors of Asian descent for the AFCC conference and she’s one of the only ones I know of who is an excellent presenter. I’ve seen her present and she’s charming and wonderful and would be a real asset to the AFCC and to any conference in fact! It would be very good for Ruth Ohi, and it would be very good for my business contact!

Gosh how much I’ve changed!

It’s not glamorous to set up this kind of stuff. It just serves a purpose. It’s for a goal. There’s work to be done.

And when I dreamed about it, I had the mistaken notion that it would change the way I valued myself, because then if I was meeting with editors and CHILDREN’S LITERATURE PEOPLE I’d be doing MEANINGFUL work. I’d be a SOMEBODY!

But that’s just not true.

Daycare is meaningful. Even while I was doing it I thought so.

I thought, I’m taking care of other people’s children. They are TRUSTING me with their babies. And I did my very best.

I remember once overhearing a couple of older boys I took care of say about me, “Oh she’s nice. She gives us food.”

And I thought why wouldn’t I give them food? I wasn’t the kind of babysitter who would serve my kids treats and leave the babysitting kids to watch! Just couldn’t do that! If I was going to give them anything, I made sure there was enough for all, or else I’d wait till the babysitting kids went home.

Mind you sometimes the parents of the babysitting kids would do that. They’d send treats only for their own kids and my kids and the others would watch while they ate them, but I couldn’t help that.

But anyway, that’s not the point.

The point is, that work was meaningful too. It just wasn’t as ‘recognized’ as what I’m doing now.

And it sure didn’t pay as well!

One time a relative even insulted me with it, saying, “You wipe bums for a living.”

It stung.

It was true, and it stung, and yet I wasn’t ashamed of what I did. It was what I had to do to help feed my kids. Honest work.

And her saying that only made me think that relative was pathetic.

Setting up a lunch meeting with the three of us has nothing to do with glamour and EVERYTHING to do with making sure both Ruth and the AFCC benefit from the acquaintance.

I don’t even ever hardly get to enjoy the food! I’m too busy worrying about whether I’ve got salad sticking out of my mouth (they tend to leave the lettuce and raddiccio in such BIG pieces!)  or whether there’s sauce dripping down my chin. And forget about ordering spaghetti!

Same with talking to editors and agents about revisions and stuff. It’s not glamorous!

It’s got absolutely nothing to do with ‘me’ and everything to do with the strength of the book or the arrangement.

And even now, when I’m setting up tours in foreign countries, my EGO is AWOL. All I’m thinking of is how to maximize the time and presentations so that the school and the students get the most out of the experience.

Because hey, if they don’t feel that they got their money’s worth, why would they ever invite me back? Or why would they ever recommend me to others?

My career will dry up! And I’ll go the way of the Dodo.

So much for moving and shaking.

And yet, yup, when my friends said that, I thought, uh huh. I’m a ‘mover and shaker’.


Alhamdu lillah!

I am so fortunate!