Reality Takes a Bite

timeWell, I probably should not title this entry as such— I lost my original 2+ hours of writing on this topic so I'm resurrecting it now. Upon hearing of the loss, a friend of mine said: “maybe it was not to be,”...  but something still inspires me to write about this topic. I think there may be more of us. Since this summer I've slowly begun to examine my dissatisfaction with my work life (im)balance. In life matters I have never been one to sit still plagued by indecision or frozen by fear. Until a time about 5 years years ago. In 2011 I had been working at the same company for 9 1/2 years. I excelled at the job, had benefits, decent hours and pay. It was SAFE... but I was completely burned out on design. These are some of the thoughts that kept me there: "What if I left and had to work weekends and couldn't spend as much time with my family?" and "What if I couldn't afford to buy xyz?" Well, nothing changes if nothing changes. I finally left, and without a solid plan for supporting myself or contributing to my family. However, finally the trust in myself had returned and I was willing to accept whatever presented itself. It was pure faith. Now I work almost every weekend, and yup— I usually can't afford xyz.

From somewhere I have been blessed with a very strong work ethic— most likely from my mom who is one of the most educated and hardest working people I've ever known. So, for better or worse I am driven to succeed. Often way past a reasonable place and into a very uncomfortable area known as THIS MUST HAPPEN. Major plans, lists on paper, lists in my head, small things to research, companies to contact, it's absolutely mind-boggling. And can be quite disheartening.

My work-week responsibilities include freelance projects, building and promoting my "brand," and the never-ending tasks of motherhood. I'm fortunate to have wonderful clients and excellent, creative jobs but I am a tyrant of a boss to myself. Never enough, girl! Those lists are looming. I fit in work between driving Ramona and other family duties— it's the double shift. Much has been written on that topic so I won't bother— you know what I mean. We moms are running around breathlessly exclaiming: "I'm *SO* BUSY!" You know, the kind of "busy" with the subtext: "And don't even try to make a plan with me." Um, guilty.

My fragmented work hours, drive for professional success and habitual comparison have most often resulted in a veil of resentment and misery. I have found myself looking at another artist's work I admire, and almost before anything else thinking: "Well she must not have a kid." Or: "Maybe if I had started this earlier or not had a kid I could do all these things so much better/fully." Sad, huh? Yes, this is a confession.

But the fact is, I DID choose to have a child and I would not trade that incredible gift for anything else in the world. Women friends who have been here remind me: you will not get this back— time with your lovely, perfect daughter is irreplaceable. Thank you, Jeannene. The other fact remains that my work hours ARE limited. But I don't want my life to be a race or competition. I don't want to be in a state of feeling continuously behind and lacking in peace of mind.

In the past few months I have taken steps to re-examine and re-rank my priorities. In acknowledging I will not be able to do it all I am occasionally rewarded with a bit of balance and calm. This feeling is fleeting and I am hoping that with more practice it will be the new norm and take over that huge ego-fed dream of MoreMoreMORE. I need to be tolerable to those around me. What good is success if there is no one to share my joys with? This has become a return to gratitude. Appreciating what is. Period.

Our family’s reality is that we are a self-employed, healthy, happy, family living in safety and comfort in a beautiful and privileged part of the world. WE. HAVE. EVERYTHING. WE. NEED. The rest— is grace.

Can you relate? Please share your sanity saving tips with me. From desperate to hopeful, articles I've come across in the last 6 months:

Maxed Out. Becoming your own number one client. NOT crazy busy.

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