This post is from my Australian friend and colleague, Lucy Good from Beanstalk Single Mums. Beanstalk is an online space which empowers single mothers to re-find their potential and re-build their confidence. Lucy works with single moms through her online course and Facebook group. She is a blogger, podcaster and mentor. Lucy also speaks regularly on a local radio station, writes articles for the online parenting community and is always on the hunt for resources of benefit to the single motherhood.
Five years ago I rather ungracefully crossed the finish line of my marriage. It was not something I had envisaged for my life, or that of my two beautiful daughters.
Not only had I become a single mother, but my life was seriously out of kilter. As someone who thrives from a carefully laid plan, it was a curve ball that had me flapping like a fish on the sand.
And, as is the way with this crazy game called life, I got a double-whammy in the bad luck department, and developed an illness that, whilst not life-threatening, changed my entire present and future.
The end result of these two uncannily timed (but definitely not photo-album-worthy) life events, meant I had to leave the safety of my full time job. As I say, I like a plan. And this was not it.
Yet, if there is one thing my marriage break-up taught me very quickly, it was how to be adaptable. Oh and resilient and determined. In fact, there is a lot we learn very quickly from a marital separation
I made a choice. For we all have choices. I decided to use the opportunity to do something big. Something I had always wanted to do. I, yes ME, was going to start my own business. I wanted to do something successful that would define the flailing, possibly failing, person I had become. Something that would eclipse the last negative chapter of my life.
My next decision was: What to do. Being a regimented soul (which I’ll admit comes from a naturally scatty nature) I never considered myself an ‘ideas’ person. But I tell you, once you get ‘in the zone’ and open your mind to possibilities, they just flow. You should try it. Many of my ideas were average, most had been done already, some were too costly and others were downright ridiculous.
I’d like to say the idea for my business was mine, but it was actually a friend’s. He told me to look within. To think of my own life experiences, and to consider how I could use them to help others. He told me that I was ‘an incredible, strong single mother who was redefining my path’.
It was a lightbulb moment. Especially bright as we had polished the best part of a bottle of wine. I WAS doing something good. I wasn’t sitting back and letting life control me. In the face of everything that had happened I WAS looking for another path, a better one. It is something all single mothers should do. Don’t shy from change, instead embrace it. By doing this, I would help to change the conception of single mums.
Single moms are incredible, strong women. Made stronger by circumstance.
The world and single mothers themselves needed to know this. And I self-delegated myself as the one to spread the word. My business, called Beanstalk, designed to inspire single mothers, was born.
Of course, the excitement of a concept is like downing an energy drink. It will only keep you going so long. And the practicalities and downright hard work of starting a business soon kicked-in. I believe I learnt more in the first year of Beanstalk than I have in my life. Learning new software, studying sales funnels and the sudden realization that even though I think my idea is the best in the world others may not share my enthusiasm, was just the beginning.
I took two small part time jobs, I did Uber driving, but most importantly, I was a single mum. I couldn’t let the reigns go on being the best mother I could be. My daughters quickly learnt that life was going to be different. They had to make sacrifices for this new business. And they did, gracefully. In fact, I have never been prouder of my daughters. They are my biggest believers. And at times when I thought I would give up (and there have been many) they are the ones who wouldn’t let me.
I now run Beanstalk with a passion I never knew I had. It is a social business. I chat to near-on one hundred single mothers everyday through my online course and my Facebook group. I am surrounded by incredible woman. Women who I help, who help me, and who help each other.
What I love most is that I have taken the lowest point of my life, and used it to create something wonderful. There is nothing more empowering than this. And through Beanstalk, single mothers have the opportunity to do this daily. They share experiences, stories and advice to help one another. And every time they do, they heal and become stronger. I may have created the seed that is Beanstalk, but it’s taken thousands of single mothers to make it grow.
Who would have thought I would make a career out of being a single mother? But then, there are a lot of things we don’t know … until we reach out and give them a go.
To learn more about Beanstalk or for high resolution images contact:
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.