Transferring skills – hereditary or not – into work

Teenage Only Child with her Mom

Times are tough and everyone, especially those of us who are self-employed, has to stretch  his or her creativity to find new areas of work, especially if we fall into the “older” age brackets. Should be easy for us creative types. Well…maybe. But it got me thinking, not just about my underlying skills, but about my late Mom’s. And just how much have I inherited from her?

First, Mom, although a widow for six years, never made it to age 65. But she inherited from my dad when he died. Her skill here was financial acumen, something I definitely don’t have except in the area of budgeting. My financial inheritance came early (age 23) and at the expense of my mother’s death. Not really a fair trade. I’d rather have had my mother around a few years more. But on a practical basis, at that age and newly married, much money went into buying a house and later for our son. Later when my husband and I separated, I needed what was left to top up alimony and earnings from my writing for daily living with a growing son.

Mom was also great at organizing things. She had files related to her business of living stored in a dresser drawer. I’ve inherited that skill (although no files in my dresser drawers) as well as her attention to detail – both very important for a writer, editor and writing instructor and speaker. She was also a bit of a pack-rat – and so was I until a few years ago when I started the big purge. I still continue in this vein. Less is more.

My mother was creative in her own way – we share the gardening and cooking creativity and used to share the sewing one. She made many of my clothes and I made all my maternity clothes and my son’s first sleepers (years ago, but not quite in the grey ages). At that time I also quilted a lot (mostly by hand), something my mother never did. Instead she knitted. I gave up sewing around the time I sold my sewing machine at a garage sale just prior to moving back to Toronto. Now, my sewing is confined to mending…and only “kicking and screaming” about it. But you can’t present yourself to clients, prospective clients, etc. with holes in your clothes or missing buttons.

My creativity lies in coming up with ideas and following through with some of them, writing – personal essays/memoir, profiles of quirky people, businesses, gardens, health stories, book reviews, and fiction. I also find it helps when I edit other writers’ book manuscripts. No, not creative editing, but seeing what isn’t working in the story and the possibility for what might work, presented as suggestions for my clients. And as I’ve blogged about before, I love to teach and speak in public. Somehow from being completely tongue-tied and frozen as a teen debating in class, I’ve evolved into someone who likes to get up in front of people and not only provide knowledge, but entertain. Must be the frustrated actor in me. Although Mom wasn’t a teacher per se, she did teach me something by her help and acceptance when I practiced teaching for my grade 8 history class and when I had the audacity to teach her to play the piano – both when I was 13.

My point is that in these tough economic times, to find work we need to look beyond the obvious. What hidden skills do we have that we can transfer from parenting, volunteering, hobbies, etc. into ways to earn a living? If we are great at fund-raising for a community organization, can this skill be transferred to promoting ourselves and our work skills?  Or possibly teaching others to promote their business. If we have a cooking or baking expertise, can we transfer that into a business? Last month I met another writer on the same panel who is baking cupcakes and plans to turn that into a business. Still stuck? Think about your parents’ skills. Have you inherited any of them? Can you put them to use to expand how you make a living?

In these tough economic times, it’s worth a try. You know the old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Comments anyone?


Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes


Filed under finances, Hereditary, Life learning, Only child, Self employed and cash flow, Skills transferable, Teaching

5 responses to “Transferring skills – hereditary or not – into work

  1. Rio

    I have started quilting which, I have learned, was something my Grandmother, and my uncle, her youngest son did together. My mother is still alive: Ninety years! I let her keep her skills for herself!

    After being an artist for years and having to give up my studio I am now enjoying an artistic expression that has threads throughout the generations! I’ve started another blog about it: Quilting is my addiction.

    Do you recognize me Sharon? I have attended some of your writing critiques!

  2. Hey Rio:

    Of course I recognize you from coming to my writers’ critique gatherings. Just didn’t know you quilted. Guess you probably saw some of my quilts hanging on the walls. If you look closely at them, they all have dates (when completed) embroidered in them. One I actually finished after I moved in here, so that was post ditching the sewing machine. What is your quilting blog URL.?

    Only Child Writes

    P.S. Like the Rio the clown and the photo.

  3. Rio

    I’m in way over my head and I don’t have a clue! Right now I am making place mats and struggling with the finishing around them. Corners are hard!

    I love your quilts. I didn’t realize you made them.


  4. Hi Rio:

    Yup my quilts except the ones hanging in the kitchen window. Did you know that there is a quilting supply store on St. Clair Ave. East. just a few blocks below O’Connor? It’s past those two churches and in a block of small shops and a pub. I believe the quilting store also has quilting workshops. Can’t remember it’s name, though.

    Finally finished one mending job – my warm winter coat. Now on to other ones.


    Only Child Writes

    • Rio

      Beautiful work!

      I found a supply store, rather small in the strip mall at Warden and Lawrence. I got one of the sales people there, Adrienne to machine quilt the last one as I have no frame.

      I have also met a woman who promises to show me the construction of a frame that her church group use. Apparently they are not hard to make. (Wait till they see me on the bus with 2x4s!)

      For now I am happy working on placemats. It keeps me from eating junk food when watching television!


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