How I find balance – April 2015

Despite stress at work, Rana Abdulla finds time to dedicate to her family and to human rights.

Rana Abdulla, 52, auditor, Canadian Grain Commission, and human rights activist, Winnipeg.

It really hit me to slow down when one day Yafa [the youngest of my four daughters] urged me to buy her shoes two sizes bigger. As her mother, I should have known that, but I had lost track. I reflected on my goals in the different areas of my life, and then I actively developed the skills I would need to get balance. I started setting boundaries on my time.

Now, I take Friday nights off work: I spend them with the family. My daughters help me with housework, cooking and technology.

I have figured out a way to deal with my career, parenting and my other interests. It took some time, and I don’t claim that I feel successful every day, but I found a way to balance it all. I love to garden and grow flowers, I paint and I write — those activities relieve stress and give me time to reflect and think.

[Work-life balance] has to be anchored in a firm personal philosophy about something: for me, that something is human rights. I have served as an advocate with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and in my support of refugees, I have been through everything from bureaucratic approvals to assisting families in settling in their new communities. I won’t ever say "I’m not available" when there’s a call to action on human rights.

If it weren’t for the idealistic and creative aspects of my life, I don’t believe I could have survived as an accountant. And if it weren’t for the discipline and structure of my profession as a CGA, I would probably have burnt out by now. I need both.

As told to Dexter Brown