Slow learners like me


Years ago, my very busy sister cleared out her entire calendar, both personal and work, and threw away her entire To-Do list in under 30 minutes.
I will never forget it.
In the afternoon of the day her 7-year old son was diagnosed with a highly malignant brain tumor, Leslie called her employer, the charities she volunteered at, the community associations she participated in, and her curling teammates and said, “This is what’s happening. I’m out. I don’t know when I will be back. Bye.”
When she told me about this, she had a note of amazement in her voice: “Jean, I’ve always wondered how I could get more time to myself, ease up a bit, and I always thought it was impossible. But it was actually very easy.”
Now, no one on the other end of a call like that is going to say, “Well, you know, it sounds rough what you’re going through but I really need you to wrap this project up first.”
That is very true.
But still, it was a miracle to me – and I think to her- that Planet Earth didn’t stop circling the sun because my highly productive sister stepped off for awhile.
[My nephew, Leslie’s son, is 25 now and has been well for many years. I didn’t want to leave you hanging on that point].
I have been thinking about Leslie’s experience in this time of the coronavirus. On March 16th when we decided to close the stores, my calendar for the rest of the month and April through June was full.
I had meetings set up with our Snackin’ Cake advisors (sales, labels, pricing), we were busy planning the April photo shoot, we were just about to hire a company to add HVAC to the Brookfield store, and the First Canadian Place renovations were soon to begin.
On the personal side, I had all the stuff everyone does: hair and vet appointments, coffee dates with friends, a dinner party for Andrew’s boss coming up, the Prairie Girl potluck dinner on the 28th. I also had several trips related to Andrew’s work and a visit from my sister.
Life was very full and very busy and it was all important.
Or so I thought.
If you’ve read my blog over the last few weeks, you will know that the first few weeks were an adjustment. I kept thinking about all the things that I should have been doing at the bakery, wondering what to do about my hair, missing things like eating out, and worrying about my team.
Then this past weekend Andrew and I went to all the stores to check on them.
It is hard to describe how that tour felt but “sad” isn’t quite it.
Maybe shocked?
The stores all left so neat and clean and tidy, the piping bags all washed and ready for another day. The rolling racks filled with cupcake tins, waiting to be filled. The stores beside mine also closed and dark, each with the same irrelevant sign starting with that tired phrase, ‘Due to COVID-19…”
It was kind of a turning point for me. This is bigger than me. Like my nephew’s diagnosis was bigger than could fit into Leslie’s existing life at the time, this pandemic is not about me or Prairie Girl or anything we wanted to do or should be doing.
We all just have to relax and let it unfold and try to be kind and to make good decisions when the time comes.
I was likely really slow to figure this out but hey, we all learn at our own pace.
It’s been a good week.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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