ABIGAIL BRUCE was born and raised American, of a Danish mother and Cajun father, and having lived in over thirty places in three countries, her feet and her imagination rarely stop. Abigail came to the UK nearly twenty years ago with her British husband, having lived north, south and central, and enjoyed every bit of it. However, her heart found peace in the French countryside where her three children were born and lifetime like-minded friendships blossomed.
As eye-opening as parenting is, her experience in a tiny village surrounded by forest forced her to see young motherhood in the purest of eyes. Abigail feels lucky to have had the opportunity to remove her capitalist coat for a while and pull on a socialist jumper. Here, her imagination was free to explore new territory, and share unique experiences with her young children. However, the day arrived when business called, and entrepreneurship beckoned. This is where she found out that her beautiful jumper was in fact, wool, and someone had thrown it into the hot wash cycle and tumble dryer.
You have moved several times starting your life from the beginning. How has this has shaped you as a person?
Moving at a young age, or any age, is very difficult. No amount of thinking, talking or planning can prepare you for the emotional trauma of leaving behind your home and neighbours. There is a great sadness driving away from a life that you know and love, even knowing that you are beginning a new adventure.
Having moved numerous times when I was young, I learned to handle new situations with confidence. I always had feelings of fear and insecurity underneath, but continually going into a new classroom, and being the new girl on the block has made me an adult that has no fear about what lies behind a new door. Au contraire, I now get excited about it.
What have you learned from this experience?
I’ve learned that home is where your heart is. Moving opens and focuses our eyes to see strength and opportunity in differences.
What has been the biggest challenge on this journey for you?
My family and closest friends live literally all over the world, and long travel and jet lag are always involved to spend time with them. The time we are able to see each other is always shorter than it should be.
It seems that you are a person who likes change. How do you cope and deal with change?
I thrive on change. I don’t feel that I need coping mechanisms to deal with change, however I do consciously have to find ways to put systems in place to maintain routines. Otherwise, I’d do something different every day, and that would drive my family crazy.
Can you tell us about your childhood? How do you remember it?
My childhood was fun-filled and very active with summers spent swimming at pools, lakes and beaches. I have two brothers, Matt who is three years older, and Brady, who is two years younger. I have always been very close with both of them. Some of my lasting memories include long car journeys to visit family and creative traditions around holidays.
My maternal grandparents were Swedish and Danish, and many of our traditions and food had a Scandinavian influence when I was growing up. Later, when I moved to Europe and travelled to Northern Europe, I was so happy to see that those beliefs and traditions had roots in real places.
How important is family for you?
Family is my anchor. My mom and dad still play a big role in helping me shape my life, my children’s lives and my work. My children, like all children, are magical. They help us to see the world with fresh eyes every day. I love watching them grow up, sharing stories of when they were little, and making plans with them for the future.
My life as a marketing consultant continues with pleasure at Common Point, and I’ve consistently been able to find internationally-oriented projects that keep the yin and yang of my imagination buzzing.
How do you save the balance between family and career?
I don’t think there is a real balance, unless you take great steps back and view the balance across a week or months. It can be a struggle, so I try to keep it all in perspective. Some days the childrens’ needs are greater so I work less, and some days there are work deadlines and so we make compromises to achieve them. It’s important to me that nobody in the family is any more important than anyone else. We all have important moments when we need support from the others, and mothers are no less important. Learning to accommodate parents’ careers is a good lesson in teamwork and mutual respect within the family.
In a perfect world, I’d have family nearby to help, since I think that there are wonderful benefits to everyone when the whole extended family works together.
You are the mother of three – and at the same time leading a business. How do you manage the time to do both?
My business is designed to fit into my life, for the rest of my life. I work while the children are in school, and on the days when I work in the afternoons, we have help from our French tutor who watches them and keeps French language and culture alive in our family. I love what I do, at home and at work, and I hope I always feel that way.
If you had the choice to start from the beginning would you do the same journey again?
Have you made a lot of mistakes in life? How do you deal with them?
Everybody makes mistakes. I try not to make the same mistakes again and again. I count on my family and friends to be very honest with me, and I change the parts of me that I can change and live peacefully with the parts I cannot.
What would be your wisdom for the readers of Migrant Woman magazine?
Keep embracing new opportunities. My words to live by:
Embrace the local culture that you are in, and DEFINITELY learn the local language.
Make friends where you are, but also seek out others in a similar situation
See moving and transition through the eyes of children to remember all the little changes that matter.