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Jan 24, 2015

The Question that Kept Me From Losing My Mind

The past few months have been a bit nuts. I've been doing two jobs at work. The kids each had a birthday and accompanying party. Murray hurt his knee which meant that I was responsible for taking both kids to hockey and soccer and dance for more than a month. My sister got married last week. Oh, and Christmas happened in there too.

Both ends of my candle were fully burnt.

There was a day in mid-December. Our regular caregiver had an important appointment, so the kids were going home with other friends from school. Or at least, that's what was supposed to happen. Unfortunately, one of their friends got sick and I had to find somewhere else for them to go. It all worked itself out, but that kind of last-minute arranging was happening at least a few times a week. The great irony was that afternoon I was scheduled to be interviewed about busy families for a national magazine.

Is that irony or a coincidence? Alanis, what say you?

But you know, through all the craziness I wasn't sorry for it. I tried to remind myself that I am privileged to:

1. Have a great job.
2. Have a husband who does so much for our family that I really notice it when he's not able to help out.
3. Be in a position where I can provide my kids with opportunities to play organized sports and take part in activities.
4. Have family and friends to celebrate the holidays and special occasions with.

And in all of the busy-ness, I realized something fairly important. At least, it feels important to me.

I learned that even if I have what feels like a million things going on, there are certain things I will never be too busy for. I don't want to be that friend that no one asks to do anything because they think I'm too busy or don't have time or they don't want to inconvenience me. 

I will always have time for my family and my friends.

You know, those people whose hands I grab on to to pull me out of the water when I feel like I'm drowning. The ones who hold the candles that light the end of the tunnel. No. That's not right.

They light my path through the tunnel.

I like to pretend that I can do everything myself, but it became glaringly obvious when I actually had to do a lot of things myself that there was no way. I was close to losing my mind (my husband might argue that I may have come closer to that than I care to admit), until finally I had to look to our friends to help make the chaos of our life work. Every time I needed help there was someone there. Every time.

But I had to ask the question first, and that was hard for me. Maybe part of that is due to the fact that I grew up in an environment where everyone was at the ready to offer help, whether you wanted it or not. Then again, in a small town it's easier to know what's going on in other people's lives. When you live in a city with a population north of a million and have no immediate family living less than 4 hours away, you can't assume that anyone - even your closest friends - know what's going on. You have to learn to go up to others and say,

"Can you help me?" 

Of all of the skills I have had to develop in my life, "Ask for help when you need it" has to be one of the most important. I sincerely believe that most people are willing to help out when asked. I also believe that we have been conditioned to keep that question to ourselves. It's humbling to admit that you can't do it all. The most uncomfortable was asking Moms who stay at home for help managing the things that were more difficult because of my job. None of them ever made me feel that way of course, but I knew that these favours were not of the kind that I would ever be able to repay, at least not in a tit-for-tat way. More than once I wondered what I had ever done to deserve so much kindness. 

So I keep looking for opportunities to help where I can, and I will never be too busy for that opportunity when it presents itself. In the meantime, I will pay it forward and count my many blessings.

Now that's something that could keep me busy for awhile. 

A photo posted by Erin Chrusch (@echrusch) on


My three greatest blessings on Gavin's birthday.

Oct 28, 2014

Finding my Path


I often think that I’m too lazy to be a “real” blogger.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “Erin, what do you mean a “real” blogger? You have a blog. You write on it. Doesn’t that make you a “real” blogger? And do you have to keep using those quotation marks?”

It’s this insecurity that comes out when I’m around a bunch of talented women (and a few men) who have been able to create careers out of their blogs. They talk about brands and reviews and partnerships and sponsorships and compensation and I feel left out because that’s not why I blog or even what I really want to do yet I feel like if I’m going to be a Blogger (is using a capital better than quotation marks?) then that’s what I should be doing.

Does that make sense?

And also, running that type of blog – at least if you’re going to do it successfully – takes a lot of 
work.

At least five times a day I have ideas for blog post. Some of them I even write down. And then life happens and I’m at work or at soccer practice or watching Netflix and I realize that it is late and I should really go to bed. My blog can wait until tomorrow, and it often does.

A lot of the bloggers I know can’t do that. They have to get their post published because they have a deadline from a sponsor and if they don’t meet it they won’t get paid. And they have other posts from other sponsors scheduled for later in the week and things need to be spread out a bit. They need time to review the product and take proper pictures of it and write a post about the whole experience that engages their readers. It takes a lot of time, and they often don’t get paid enough for the amount of work they put into it.

So when I’m around all of these people that work really hard on their blogs I feel like a bit of an imposter. How can I call myself a blogger when I barely spend any time here? At least, that’s how it’s felt lately.   

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending BlissDom, an annual conference for bloggers and social media influencers (“400 of the top social media influencers in the country” reads the publicity material. And me.) It was fantastic. I really wanted to meet with people from across the country to talk about MomsVote and BlissDom was the perfect venue for those kinds of conversations. 

This was the first time I had gone to a conference with a real purpose in mind, or at least a more focused purpose. Of course I wanted to learn skills that would help with my blog and make new friends, but I also wanted to introduce people to MomsVote and see if any of them would be interested in helping me spread the word and/or contribute to its success. 

Although I am a reasonably confident person I still felt a bit awkward because neither of my websites really fit into the traditional blogger mold. A lot of the sessions are geared toward people who have built their blog into a business and THAT IS GREAT! It’s just not for me. When I saw the program after I registered I was a bit concerned that maybe it wouldn’t be as beneficial for me as I’d hoped.

Not to mention that the mere idea of going out and promoting anything is so incredibly uncomfortable to me, let alone having to do it so far away from my main support system and with the subject matter being so close to my heart.  But I suppose that if there was any place where I could feel safe with that discomfort – I mean, other than in my own home – BlissDom would be it.

So I got over all that and met new people and told as many as I could about MomsVote.  I went to a workshop with Scott Stratten and Alison Kramer (Unmarketing) where I learned that one of the most important tips about doing social media “right” is to Be There and Engage. Talk to people.  Kind of sounds like a good tip for succeeding at “real” life too, doesn’t it?

The keynote panel the next morning was too short.  Seriously. I could have listened to the Women in Media panel all day, or at least longer than the hour that was allotted for a fascinating discussion about how women are portrayed in the media, sexism, embracing aging, and how to balance motherhood with a demanding career. When Jane Taber talked about the importance of having more women in politics, I felt a twinge of validation for the work I’m doing. I went to meet her afterwards and told her about MomsVote. I’m going to follow up with her.

Then I heard Robert Egger.

While there were many things I expected to find at BlissDom, there were just as many things that caught me by surprise. I was moved to tears more than once while hearing Mr. Egger speak because what he said about his journey starting a non-profit in Washington DC resonated so deeply within me.  Maybe that sounds ridiculous, but I think we spend so much time trying to cover up those moments that really touch our soul that eventually we forget we have a soul at all.

There were so many other sessions and discussions and insights, far too many to put down on one page.

The Women in Media Panel. (Trust me.)
I didn’t have to fit any type of blogger (or "blogger" or Blogger) mold to really fit in. The only person really concerned with that was me. Once I figured that out, it was easy to engage with even more people and let my guard down a bit. I might have even lip synched the entirety of Ice Ice Baby at the pajama party.

It was a hidden talent.

I realized that it doesn’t matter if I’m too lazy to be a “real” blogger because I’m going to keep doing it, on my schedule - as erratic as that might be. And I know I'm not really lazy either; I work incredibly hard when it comes to things I'm passionate about. That's why I’m going to keep spreading the word about MomsVote and build it into something spectacular.

Because in the end, finding where you fit and figuring out the path that’s going to get you where you want to be is what BlissDom is all about.

I’ll see you there again next year.




So much of what made BlissDom great was due to very generous sponsors like Chevrolet, Manulife, Canadian Lentils,Tim Hortons, and a bunch of other fantastic companies listed here.

Sep 30, 2014

My New Project: MomsVote Canada

Well hey there strangers!

I mean, I knew that once school started and the kids got going with all of their activities that time would fly, but I'm still not used to just how much of a blur the weeks can be. It's meant that I haven't been able to write here as often as I'd like to. Please don't hold it against me.

In addition to whatever the kids have going on, I've been busy setting up my own little project (though I hope it doesn't stay little for long).

MomsVote Canada

You can read a detailed explanation of what MomsVote is on the website (designed so beautifully by Calgary-based Good Company), but suffice to say I thought it was about time we came together to help each other advocate for causes we believe in, run for office, or just share our views and opinions on some of the big-picture issues facing our country in a more respectful forum than you might find elsewhere on the internet.

A place to talk about politics without getting too Political, if you get my drift.

The official elevator pitch is, "A non-partisan initiative dedicated to helping Moms across Canada become more involved and engaged in their communities and the political process."

It's a newborn initiative right now, but I have a chart of developmental milestones I'd like it to reach. With elections coming up in BC, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta in the next month, the time is right to come together to discuss what's going on and get people a least a little bit interested in casting their vote.

Please take the time to Like our Facebook page or Follow @momsvotecanada on Twitter. I don't want to keep talking to myself over there.

And now I must go complete my packing for BlissDom 2014. I am so excited to go and make new friends from across Canada. It promises to be an even better time than the conference I went to in 2012, but nudity isn't an option so pack, I must.

I promise to tell you all about it.