When you have lived through so much and now you make it your life’s mission to help others because you know what it’s like to be in their shoes, you can bet that others will stop to thank you and admire you. This week’s Woman of the Week is Liz M Raymond. She has been a single mother and knows what it’s like to be on that journey. Because of it, she now dedicates her life to helping single parents and business owners who need additional support and resources. Her story is inspiring and thus, she is this week’s Woman of the Week. Please help me in recognizing Liz for the amazing woman that she is.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am born and raised in Ottawa and happy to have settled in Orleans where I live with my brother and his wife. I am the middle child of 3. I grew up in Overbrook with my parents until they divorced when I was 12. My mom moved us to centre town where I spent the rest of my teenage years. I married at 21, had my first born, Derek, at 27 and my youngest son, Josh, at 32. I became a single parent at 32 when I chose to leave an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship. I pretty much raised my boys alone except for a 4 year block of time when I lived with a fellow I thought was my soulmate – turnout out not so much. I enjoy my life as a single woman, am actively involved in my community and enjoy building my 3 businesses.
After 13 years working with accounting firms I chose to leave after being told I was at the top of my pay scale. Knowing I could do much better I went on my own to create my own bookkeeping practice. Providing services to small businesses for 20+ years the range of services grew to meet their needs. Because I offered so much more than just bookkeeping, I rebranded as the “Professional Business Organizer”. Helping entrepreneurs with their business systems, bookkeeping/accounting and financial education is something that brings me joy – especially when I see them grow.
Who inspires you in your life?
There are a few special ladies but I have to admit my mom has been a great inspiration – as a single mom not only did she do everything she needed to do so we could have great opportunities in our lives, she has always been active in the community. She’s very giving with a large span of friends. I know I embody many of her great qualities.
Who do you look up to, and why?
I met this lovely lady, Melanie Hayden-Sparks in 2008 who has impacted my life immensely. What she has done and the skills and strategies I have learned from her, she made me see my life could be so much more than it was.
She made me realize that I really mattered and showed me by example that I could make a better life for myself and my children. I saw in this woman someone who became very successful in business with a high school diploma. I witnessed a business she created from her passion of connecting people and creating supportive communities AND raised awesome children. When I my path crossed her’s I began to understand it was all under my control.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your life?
Feeling abandoned by my father at 12, who, I felt as a child, replaced us with a new family, created a huge challenge – one that carried through most of my life – believing I didn’t really matter – that I wasn’t good enough. My sense of worth was crushed.
I’d have to say the 2nd big challenge that I recently recognized, was my beliefs about money. Money was not talked about at home except for the constant reminder that “we couldn’t afford it” and “you have to work hard” and only the “rich get richer”. This life lesson kept appearing in my life by way of two bankruptcies with two failed relationships.
What did you do to move through them?
I woke of up at the age of 47 knowing I had to do something cause life couldn’t get much worse. Honestly, a dream board workshop facilitated by the most tenacious woman I know (God love her!) helped me to see for the first time that my life could be different. A single mom of 2 angry teenage boys, facing my 2nd bankruptcy, I knew I had to save money and invest in myself. From 2008 to 2012 I consistently practiced skills and strategies taught by Melanie. I had to begin with me. When I did, I saw changes in myself, my boys and my career. I continued to participate in seminars and workshops and did a lot of reading – I wanted all the help I could get – and I did.
What did you learn?
I learned I matter and to make my life better I needed surround myself with positive, supportive people who believed in me and supported me in everything I did. Isolation is not the way to go! To grow you need to continue learning – reading is my favourite past time now.
What do you wish to share with others?
You matter! Your dreams, your standards, your wishes, matter! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
What are you most proud of?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I’m proud of the work ethic I have passed onto my boys. I’m proud that I’ve learned to walk through my fears and am creating communities of support for other single parents and their children.
What do you want your older self to know?
It’s all worth it. Being you every day, every moment, is good enough. Being a life long learner has been my greatest benefit.
Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you have decided to SEE beyond the imperfections.