I’m not really sure how to start this.
It seems a regular thing for me — to let life get in the way of my writing, of my therapy, of being part of my online tribe.
I know that’s not what I want for my life. I’ve been writing since the beginning of what feels like Internet time about my need for a better life balance. But what I want and what I have to do to be responsible for my kids, myself…my life…are two entirely different things.
I hope to one day soon strike that better balance, and construct my life into something more suited for ME.
I’m working on it. I’m trying not to get impatient…these things take time. I’ve nearly paid off two large debts (my car and my student loans) meaning that very soon (within four or five months) the total amount of income necessary to support myself and my children will be much less than what I’m accustomed to living on right now.
Which is kind of scary.
But kind of not. You see, in the years since my divorce, I’ve made more thoughtful choices as to what I fill my life with. I no longer pay for cable. I carry very little credit card debt. The stress of having to make so many ends meet at the end of each month is just not something I want as part of my life.
So I don’t do it.
And yes, so many of my friends have these beautiful homes and cars and everything in their lives is decorated JUST SO and I have none of that. But really, I don’t miss it, and for the most part, never really had it. My home does NOT look like a Pottery Barn catalog, but in reality all I want is a cozy space called home. I’m hoping that one day soon I’ll have time to “hack” a living room together that merely gives the illusion of put-together-ed-ness.
This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to make a “go” at a more balanced life. Six or seven years ago, I began taking Web development classes for work. At one point I began designing simble Web sites and designing blog templates, thinking that I might augment my income for a while until I made enough at it to make it a real job.
But then I gave up on it. I told myself I wasn’t a “real” designer. I was only an art student for two years in college — that doesn’t really count, right? I sit here now, imagining where I’d be now if I hadn’t doubted myself…
Not long after that I left the corporate job I’d had for many years for another that paid much more. Only I HATED it. Hated the people I worked with, hated the environment. So I left. I put in my notice with every intent to just stay home with my kids for a while. They were still so little — two and four at the time, and I had the luxury of a second income (my husband’s) to soften the blow.
When I put in my notice that I was leaving they begged me to stay. Instead, I worked out a schedule where I worked for them from home for a set number of hours per week. That arrangement was lovely for the three or four months it lasted.
One day, out of the blue, I got a phone call from my old boss. I’d thought it was a joke at the time to be honest, but he was calling to offer me a job left vacant by another ex-coworker who was leaving the firm. At the time, it seemed a ray of light had shone down from the heavens. My marriage hadn’t been good for some time and I was under some serious stress. It would be many months before I could even begin to imagine it being possible to leave, but I knew in my heart at that moment that taking this full-time gig would mean a guaranteed income…something quite useful if I did, indeed, leave. (I did and it was.)
So I went back to the full-time corporate world. Looking back at these few failed attempts I see that I let fear drive me. I can justify it and say it was out of necessity, but really it was fear.
Here I sit, almost exactly five years after my last self-employed attempt, in the same boat, AGAIN. Feeling like I waste my time and talent sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week when I KNOW that I can make just as much money in less time doing something that’s more fulfilling. I need that balance — I need that ability to say, “You know what? There are a lot of kid activities going on this week. I’m going to push some of this work off until next week.” The ability to say, “I really want to refocus my business — I’m going to take on this new project and push myself to learn something new.” The ability to say, “Why yes. Yes we *can* go to the cottage for a week and let our little boys be little boys while they actually ARE little. While they still believe they are going on adventures in the “woods” when really we can see the neighbor’s house through the trees.”
I know I’m being tested. I KNOW IT. Since I’ve made a more concrete decision as to what I wanted for my career life, I’ve gotten multiple emails through LinkedIn from recruiters, hawking jobs that are really good fits for me and my career. I’ve had a co-worker who’s leaving offer to pitch to his boss ME as his replacement. This is both a huge compliment and would mean a big bump in pay.
I’m proud of myself for saying “no” to these people. I also think I’m somewhat crazy…but I’m proud. In my heart I know that those jobs aren’t what I really want. I just have to be strong and not let fear get into my head and make me doubt myself.