Like most people, Lisa Dutton has a Monday to Friday job. The big dif? Her weekdays begin at 3:30 a.m. and her work hours are spent, for the most part, on camera. Perhaps as you're getting ready in the morning, you spend some time with her, too. As Global Morning's anchor here in Saskatoon, Lisa delivers the news and the local 4-1-1 with down-to-earth sincerity and a quirky, quick sense of humour that defies the early hours. You guys, she makes 6 a.m. look glamorous and fun. I had to know: IS IT? I mean, what else would make someone choose that nutty schedule? But then again, how could Lisa feel zero jealousy seeing her husband and their two little boys happily sawing logs as she tiptoes off to work? And what ridiculous bedtime would she have to set to get enough REM in? The whole thing fascinated me. So I asked Lisa if my blogmate Jocelyn and I could shadow her for a morning (Joc specializes in documentary-style captures) and because she's the best sport ever, she said yes. And that is how we ended up in Lisa Dutton's bedroom at a time I'd previously considered 'night'.
Welcome to 3:30 a.m. where the clock can't even clock (just a DSLR reaction to the LCD numbers, says Joc, but I like my explanation better). Lisa's littlest guy, Johnny, is two-and-a-half and has usually crawled into bed with Lisa and her husband Colin by this point, but this day was an anomaly and there were no co-sleeping snuggles to photograph!
Lisa's day begins quick, unlike my leisurely everything, and she smiles that we'll be out of the house in twelve minutes.
Exactly as I imagined, Lisa creeps quietly into her kids' rooms to kiss them goodbye in their sleep. Having the kids slumber through her departure is actually easier than having them screaming at her feet, she says. "It's nice to leave a peaceful house."
Lisa's newsroom life hasn't always involved calm and silent mornings (not so long ago she brought us the 6:00 news) and though she admits it was a toughie to move her start-time from afternoons, the morning shift gives her a ton of family time. With the evening news, she had to drop Jesse off, crying at daycare... so this feels a lot better for everyone. And she says that being a mom gave her a leg up on the weirdly timed wake-ups because as any mom knows, newborns don't exactly adhere to a schedule.
I wondered if Lisa's in bed by like seven and she tells me at first, she tried forcing herself to go to bed super early but that it just didn't work. Now, she's asleep in the nine o'clock hour and possibly grabbing a nap the next afternoon. The only time it's a real challenge is when there's a sick kid. That, and quality time with her husband Colin is limited to weekends, making that time all the more important to them.
The biggest time-saving secret in Lisa's morning is that she preps her entire week's work wardrobe before the week even begins. "Do this on Sunday," she says, speaking to all you professional women, "and it will change your week." This being a Monday, all Lisa had to do was brush her teeth, pack her five outfits into a garment bag, and go. (Although you'll have the extra steps of hair and make-up since you probably don't have a green room at work.)
When picking clothes out for the week, Lisa likes to pick a variety of colours because it keeps things interesting and, well, viewers expect the news to feel fresh. She tries to choose pieces that are conversation pieces but wearable so that means a few boutique buys (she's tall so fit isn't always a cinch) alongside mall finds. Lisa loves when someone asks where she got an item and she can say, Suzy Shier! "That's relatable," she nods, "That's what I like."
Classic Lego moment :*D
Lisa credits her best friend and husband, Colin as the reason her life works so well and says he's a GREAT hands-on dad. But she still wants to feel like she's a part of her kids' morning routines, so she gets their stuff ready for school, sticking a note in a pocket or lunch kit. Oh, and speaking of lunch kits, LOOK AT LISA'S GLOBAL LUNCH (read: breakfast) SACK. Aaaaadorable.
There are plenty of people who work odd hours, and Lisa reminded me that a lot of people (like health care professionals) have tougher schedules thanks to shiftwork and that still others do week-in, week-out stints. "My hours are regular," she reasons, "and you can't beat the traffic!"
Sometimes Tim's is an en-route pit stop, and you can bet there's never a line-up. "Coffee will never taste this good," says Lisa, as she enjoys her first sip at 4:00.
It's still dark as we pull up to Global, but Lisa describes a week in June (the beauty of which Kevin later explained in meteorological terms) whose early morning sky is "so beautiful, you haven't lived until you've seen it". On my way home, actually, the sunrise was indeed so breathtaking that I pulled over to take a photo.
We talk a little about why, beyond the reason of necessity, women choose to be working moms. Lisa's perspective is you should show your kids that what you do is important and that having a sense of self is good modeling for them. Recently, Lisa and Kevin visited her 7-year-old Jesse's school and that burst of pride he had for his mom felt so great to Lisa. "I'm not saying every woman should work," says Lisa, "But even if it's a hobby, it's good to do something on your own that makes your kids proud." There were times early on after maternity leave that Lisa says she really had to push herself to keep going, so her advice to moms feeling a little overwhelmed is to, "hang in there. It only gets easier!" It helps that Lisa found a great daycare and of course, her husband is super supportive. (I've never tried to find daycare but I've heard finding a good fit is one of the biggest hurdles in a successful transition back to work.)
"My job's not glamorous," laughs Lisa as we head into the cosy green room the hosts share, "And don't you dare show Kassy Moen (Capelli Salon) my hair tools!" Much like me and maybe you, Lisa's got some old favourites in her hair tool arsenal that she just can't ditch. "I do have a nicer brush," she says, holding up her oldie goldie, "but I like this one better!"
Sometimes Lisa wears her hair straight, other times it's curly, but 100% of the time there's volume galore. "We're just 2-D on TV," she explains of her crazy backcombing, "so without volume, you look like a flat head without hair on top." I noted this for next time I'm booked to do a segment and plan to out-volume even Lisa.
A hairspray-avoiding life hack.
"My make-up tips probably don't apply to anyone," she says, pulling out her kit and starting to get TV-ready. "Except maybe Snookie. Like, 'line your lips so you can still see the liner when you put lipstick on' and 'use drag queen level bronzer'. The goal is to get as much make-up on my face in as little time as possible. It's cirque de face!"
By this point, Joelle Tomlinson has joined us in the green room and she chimes in, agreeing. "People think that because it's HD, your make-up has to be perfect but it doesn't. It just has to be a lot." We all agree this is hilarious.
Lisa says that people are usually pretty quiet in the morning but the green room has seen a lot of chats and heart-to-hearts.
As for how Lisa got into this biz, it was a high school teacher who was good at identifying his students' strengths who suggested, "you should be in communications." So she went to Mount Royal in Calgary and after graduation, began a career in broadcasting. Lisa's now been with Global for ten years (easy for her to remember, I'm sure, since that's also how long she's been married to Colin!). She says of her job that it's comfortable but not too comfortable-- her focus is on keeping the show fresh and interesting for the viewers.
Little tidbit: the paper on which Lisa's notes are printed isn't white for a reason. White paper reflects onto the face whereas this orange stuff keeps the light neutral.
And of her co-host, Kevin Stanfield, Lisa says that their job is pretty much like going for coffee with someone for three hours every day so you've REALLY got to like them, so it's no on-air act that Lisa and Kevin are great friends. Their chit chat on television is usually spontaneous though sometimes Lisa will ask him a question in the newsroom and he'll wait to answer until they're on air.
The Global Morning crew feel a bit like their own little island because their start time is so much earlier than the rest of Global's day staff, but that means their bond is all the stronger. Kevin describes teaming up with Lisa as having the perfect Trivial Pursuit partner: she does half the pies, he does the other. "Unlike most other fields," agrees Lisa, "we have to know a little bit about a lot of things rather than being an expert in one field."
Everybody prepares for the show. Interviews and segments for a given day's show have pitched by anyone on the team who had a great idea, and when it comes to doing interviews, most fits are a natural (hence the perfect Trivial Pursuit team). Doug, the producer, has built the schedule and it gets followed precisely because a minute counts for so much in the news, and there's a team in Vancouver that they work with in tandem. When Lisa first started Global Morning, she came in at 2:30 a.m. to make sure she was organized and ready but thankfully, with a bit of experience, she's now more relaxed.
Now that Lisa's gone over the show plan (a lot of her prep is actually done the night or day before), there's just a quick stop in the green room to add more mascara and visit with Carly and Joelle, and we're off to set. Lisa's mom once told her in person after the morning show that her eyelashes looked like toothbrushes, but that's TV make-up for you! Her secret to those long, strong lashes? The brush from Voluminous and any L'Oreal mascara. "It's all in the brush," she winks, with toothbrushy lashes. ;)
The set is more of a green room than the actual green room, as you can see. Lisa sets up her station behind the desk, including her breakfast.
Lisa opens the show (most times it's done with Kevin but they're flexible) and the vibe is fun! You might be surprised to see the cameras are actually robots, operated by folks in Vancouver. Those peeps talk into the Morning crew's earpieces like a traditional floor director but, y'know, invisible.
Possibly the cutest moment of the morning was during break when Lisa was texting with Jesse, who'd found the treat she'd left in his pocket.
And at another break, it's breakfast time! Lisa has the same thing every day which is yougurt and fruit... and hard boiled eggs. "You might wonder who buys these things," she says of the two-pack of peeled eggs. "Turns out it's me!" She is appropriately made fun of for said eggs.
Blot paper is a must-have on set and these crazy kids don't mind showing you how it's done. I couldn't believe we were already at 7:00 but as Lisa said an hour before when we walked onto set, "It doesn't even feel like six once you get here, and before you know it, it's nine!" After today's show, Lisa will prep for tomorrow's, writing her leads. By noon, she'll be grocery shopping, running errands, or getting some time in for herself. But that's a whole other story and to be honest, after this, I went straight back to sleep.
Thanks to the Global Saskatoon and the Morning team for having Joc and I in, and of course to Lisa Dutton for letting us shadow her. You're a great sport, Lisa, not to mention a beacon of hope for newly-back-to-work mamas that the balance CAN happen if you want it. Oh, and we should probably thank Colin, too, since he let us creep into the bedroom without complaint! This was fun but gotta say, I didn't mind canceling my 3 a.m. alarm forever when it woke me the next day.
xo Maygen + Joc