Week 27 of my Share Your Story; the Women the WSJ Missed series brings us Cynthia Myer.
As a life-long educator, Cindy found herself at a cross-roads: to leave a career she had built over two decades and take a chance on the unknown of becoming an entrepreneur; or stay in a high-stress job that was taxing her body and soul? Cindy jumped ship. Like many of our other kuel women, Cindy exudes bravery and a ‘cannot fail’ attitude which is to be commended and emulated.
Take a moment and grab some inspiration from Cindy – who is now spending her days doing what brings her joy: running a dog breeding program; a boarding kennel startup; a growing greenhouse; and embarking on her life-long dream of authoring books.
KUELLIFE: What are you pursuing now, at this stage of your life, that surprises you or might appear to others as if it comes out of left field?
CINDY: I never expected to walk away from my teaching career – twice – before retirement. To walk away AND dive into FOUR business ventures. Those who know me well rather expected me to become an author, but I don’t believe anyone thought I would become a commercial gardener and boarding kennel operator.
KUELLIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?
CINDY: My days begin early – by 5 am most days. By 6 am, I am in the kennel, tending to the morning chores of feeding, watering, walking, and cleaning. Around 7:30, I return to the house to complete my mindset journal and preview my schedule. The weather dictates the order I do the next items. When it is nicest part of the day, I spend an hour or so in the greenhouse: preparing soil, watering, pruning, or harvesting. The balance of the morning is spent on marketing, emails, and phone calls for all the businesses. I expect these tasks will soon outgrow their time slot!
I take a real lunch break each day. I take an hour to not only eat but to rest and recharge. Sometimes, I read – leisure and learning titles. Others, I call family or friends to catch up. Occasionally, I allow myself to mindlessly watch a show or video. After lunch, it’s back to the kennel. A quick clean up is followed by walks or time in the play yard for the dog guests. I enjoy this time immensely! I get to love on and play fetch — AND get paid for it!
The other large block of time each day (that swaps with the nice weather time block) is for writing and/or web page development. During this block, I follow up with beta readers or illustrators involved with books in progress. Most of the time I have three or more projects in the pipeline. By four in the afternoon, my family begins to return home. We make and eat a family dinner. In the evenings, we might watch a show together, build/work on the next stage of a project, or work on my daughter’s homework. Because the day starts early, I am in bed by 9:30 pm. If all goes well, I get to stay in bed until the alarm the following morning. That’s not always the case. Dog guests can get lonely at night and raise a fuss. A midnight trip to check on everyone is not uncommon.
KUELLIFE: With what do you struggle?
“The worst moment for me is realizing that something needed done, but I didn’t even know it until I needed it.”
CINDY: The struggle is real. Actually, the struggles are real – all of them. The big issues for me are marketing and being a one-woman show. Marketing and social media are absolutely new to me. I only began using Facebook in May of 2019 when I resurrected a derelict account I created years ago in a workshop. I have worked for six months — reading, watching webinars, trolling groups — trying to learn the basics of marketing while learning to use the technology. I CAN learn, but on a budget, it seems that the pieces are scattered. It’s slowly coming together. Since there is only me – with the support of my husband and family, I wear many hats. I have to work very hard to stay on top of all the things that need to be done in a day/week/month. The worst moment for me is realizing that something needed done, but I didn’t even know it until I needed it. Then, the carefully planned schedule is upended as I scramble to meet the demand. I have a full schedule now, but I don’t have a young family and numerous other hats to wear now that I used to. My time is mine to address the issues.
KUELLIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
CINDY: Motivation — There is no better motivation than necessity. Sure, I could have tried to slug it out a few more years. But at what cost? I was sick, stressed, and not feeling like I was in a good place. Remaining where I was really wasn’t an option. Once I left that job, my health improved dramatically. My blood pressure returned to normal. I no longer needed anxiety medications or sleeping medications. My pain (from a chronic health condition – Rheumatoid Arthritis) all but disappeared from my average day.The reprieve from pain alone is a phenomenal motivator! Instead of dragging myself from bed and dreading the battles in the day to come, I now wake naturally and often early. I enjoy my past times; they no longer feel like work. My motivator? Living a life filled with my multiple passions and building an income from that joy.
KUELLIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?
CINDY: Aging is often seen as an end game, something bad that happens TO people. I see it as my salvation. Age has brought enough wisdom and personal strength to step into the unknown. Use the strength, knowledge, and grace gained by living to see aging as an opportunity to strut your stuff.
KUELLIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?
“The ability to give up your super-woman cape epitomizes vulnerability.”
CINDY: The ability to give up your super-woman cape epitomizes vulnerability. Society and stereotypes have made women feel ‘less’ if they can’t do it all. When I need help, you bet I’m out there asking for it. When I need rest, I’m taking it. If I need a good cry, I’m taking that, too. Self-care means admitting you are not invulnerable and letting others in to love and support you.
KUELLIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?
CINDY: 1. In high school, I had two very strong, female role models. They taught me that being caring doesn’t mean you are weak. Even in the face of losing my best friend to complications of surgery, these women helped me stand strong and stick with my convictions. (The surgery was related to an unplanned pregnancy in a time when ‘those girls’ moved away to have their baby. The social stigma was intense.)
2. The birth of my children fundamentally changed me, as it should! We struggled through multiple miscarriages before having preemie twins eight weeks early. The axis of the world shifts when you become a parent, but when the child/children are immediately threatened, it shifts again. My life and all I did became focused on ensuring their survival. I am happy to say that those little wonders are now adults themselves, and they have a younger sibling as well!
3. In a nine month span, I experienced five funerals: a brother, three aunts, and an uncle. If there is a heart in you, you don’t come through that unchanged. My world shifted again to focus on the rest of my time – however long that was. What was truly important? It wasn’t money, though I agree that money is necessary to a certain extent. My focus shifted to quality of life. Mine wasn’t a life of quality any longer. My children were grown and needed me less and less. When conditions at work seemed to deteriorate further, my husband and I agreed it was time to make a change. I made several, and I don’t regret any of them.
KUELLIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?
CINDY: Many people, places, things, ideas, and experiences have coalesced in me. Through it all, one person has maintained the deepest hold – my mother. My mother is a kind and caring soul with a soft voice and softer hand. In my youth, she ruled the house of five children with kindness and inspired admiration. The only time I have seen her otherwise she was justly provoked by said five children! She loved me unconditionally through the easy and difficult times. I have never doubted her support or love. The shear constancy of her presence soothes my soul.
KUELLIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?
CINDY: Live life for yourself first.
KUELLIFE: What woman inspires you and why?
CINDY: As mentioned above, my mother is my guiding light and pillar of strength. Her cool head and kind heart have created the woman I am today.
KUELLIFE: Are you grown-up?
CINDY: Absolutely not! I continually grow. To me, being ‘grown-up’ implies an end state. I’m not ready to end anything.
KUELLIFE: What do you do for self-care?
CINDY: I am a simple soul. Self-care for me is simple as well. I enjoy being close to nature; living in the country and gardening help with this! I also have a huge tea collection with a different flavor for every mood. Long baths with bubbles and a good book are weekly, if not daily, occurrences.
KUELLIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
CINDY: 1. Become financially self-sufficient – I want to build my endeavors into a support system that will allow my husband to quit his stressful job and allow us to live simply and quietly in the country.
2. I want to spend a couple weeks a year at the beach and a couple more in the Colorado Rockies. I’ve had brief visits to both that linger in my heart and mind.
3. Stay healthy and active long into my life. This is taken for granted by people who have never known chronic illness.