Day 200: 5 Lessons from the part-time writer

Perhaps it’s because my new life has become routine, but my second hundred days went so much faster than the first. I have been working now for three months and some of my responsibilities include writing.  It has challenged me and I have learned much:

  1. I must keep writing. Any advice on how to be a better writer urges daily practice. I think of writing every day, but I don’t do it. I used to scribble in a notebook in the early morning hours, but that no longer works for me. I need to type, reorganize, and reshuffle. In order to write everyday I will have to put less pressure on myself to publish the work the day it’s written, or to make it relevant to the numbered day on which it’s published – and to forgive myself for not having a relevant photo.
  2. Read more of the good stuff. This also one that is always included, and I am including it too, simply because it’s true. I should have a list of great fiction that I can pull from. I need to read those copies of the New Yorker on my coffee table. And for the love of God, I need to read less Facebook status updates.
  3. Shorter is better. Sure, 500+ words may be great for short personal stories with drama or comedy, but it is far too long for most stuff on the internet. When I go back and read early NPface or the first post for In Parallel, I find myself skimming and scrolling instead of reading. Editing is hard work, and that is why the good writers get paid.
  4. When you get paid to write, it becomes harder to write for yourself. I am now more critical of what I am writing as I write it – always questioning it’s value. Also, when you work a flexible schedule, it’s a challenge to carve out time to write just for the fun of it. My friend Adam Goldberg (who now writes for TV and movies) once told me, “be careful doing what you love for money, you may begin to hate it.”
  5. Dogs may be great around the office, but Cats are not. I don’t have an office. I have a desk in my living room. My best work lately has been crafted at coffee shops around town. Somehow, the general public talking and drinking coffee are less distracting than a couple of old felines. As I write this, they are curled up in cute little bundles on the couch instead of getting underfoot, stalking me around the house, or nuzzling my elbow as I try and write. I think they know I am writing this and want to prove me wrong.

Here’s to the next hundred days – and less than 500 words!

Day 182: Claiming my right to take pictures of the space needle

This photo was taken 3-10-12, after 10 years of living in Seattle

I was inspired to write this by the lamiki.com post on when do you know you are a local Seattelite. And then I was double inspired by the answer, “when you stop taking pictures of the space needle.” I have lived in Seattle now for 10 years, yet I just took a picture of the space needle a couple weeks ago. Hmmm – dilemma.

I have lived only three places in my lifetime (with the exception of New Mexico for 6 months when I was 5 years old, but let’s just count that as a sabbatical). I lived on Maui for 18 years, in Manhattan for 8 years, and Seattle for 10 now – whoops, just gave away my age. If you went purely on the math, I am still from Maui, and truth to tell that is a big part of who I am.

Here is another way to consider this question: When we travel, for example last summer to Costa Rica, they asked us where we were from and we said, “Seattle” – without hesitation. Yet, when people in Seattle ask me where I am from I have never said, “here.” I usually mention Maui and/or Manhattan. Perhaps I’m scared that the person asking will be one of those rare Seattle “natives,” and I will offend them. The only time I associate myself with naming this town is when people ask the (very Seattle) question, “What neighborhood do you live in?” I proudly say West Seattle – woot!

Perhaps I should let go of my local-phobia. Since moving to Seattle, I have gotten married (to my New York boyfriend), bought a house (now that’s commitment) and birthed my very own true native Seattelite. When confronted with the idea of moving back east, I felt really sad. This moment made me realize that I really do love my town.

Yes, I am in love with Seattle. Sure, I threaten to leave her now and then when we hit a bad stretch of weather, but I don’t really mean it. I love her flowing waterways, her busty peaks, and her verdant green carp.. yikes… getting a little too into that metaphor. I just don’t know how I would live my life without Lincoln and Discovery parks, the farmers markets, the food trucks, the alpine lakes, growing my own food, knowing I could collecting my own seafood – I am sure this list could go on for a while, feel free to add more in the comments.

I do toy with the idea of living on Maui again. Who wouldn’t in this weather? I also dream that Tom and I might have a condo in New York when we retire. Yet, this is my home and I have no plans to leave it. We are going to raise Melody in our dream home to be built right here next summer. In the end, the most critical thing keeping me rooted to this spot is the amazing network of friends and colleagues that we have built in the last 10 years. We are part of a vibrant and proud community, and that is what makes us locals. Space-needle-photo-taking locals.

Day 170: My beer-free St. Patrick’s Day

Goodbye Guinness.

Last weekend every time I took my first sip of a pint of beer I sneezed. I didn’t sneeze through the rest of the pint, just after the first sip. For the last 15 years I have been joking about being allergic to wheat (and thus Barley and Malt). When it came to beers, I really only noticed it when I drank Heinekin, so I just avoided that.

It wasn’t until this past weekend that I got fed up with it. Who wants their first bite of breakfast – english muffins in this case – to make their throat feel like they swallowed poison ivy? Yuck. Now that we have this thing called the internet, I searched for “wheat allergy symptoms” and found – wait for it – wheatallergysymptoms.org. I recognized the first four symptoms:

  • Swelling, irritations and itching in and around the throat and mouth.
  • Formation of rashes and hives on the skin due to itching.
  • Nasal cavity congestion caused due to mucus. It happens mainly because of the release of histamine after the allergen takes charge of the body.
  • Problematic eyes with watering, itching, redness and frequent irritation becoming the order of the day.

The other four symptoms were pretty scary and I had never had anything on the level of vomiting. I think I would have diagnosed myself a long time ago if I was barfing after my bagel.

This sparked an entire afternoon of online research. What I discovered was what this gluten thing was all about. The first time I met someone with Celiac disease was at work two years ago. I was in awe that she had to avoid all bread products entirely. Now that I have left the office environment, I realize that it’s the ultimate nightmare scenario for someone who can’t eat gluten. What catered meal, snack, breakfast, or potluck in the office doesn’t include some form of bread?

Now I feel like Celiac is breeding like a bunny. It seems like everyone has it now. Who hasn’t noticed the giant “GLUTEN FREE!” labels on all the products in health food stores and restaurants these days. I didn’t get it. Now I do.

Today is day 7 of no wheat (you know how much I like counting days). It has been surprisingly easy to leave the bread alone. I like eggs on corn tortillas or grits for breakfast. And the plethora of rice noodle based restaurants has made eating out brainless. My motivation got especially strong upon finding the book Wheat Belly, at the heart of my research. If Dr. Davis is right, then my weight problems are wheat-related as well. According him, wheat has a similar effect on your brain to morphine. It makes you act like an addict, not just for wheat, but for all food in general.

So after a week of not eating wheat, in addition to less itch, I have a much easier time controlling my eating habits. It’s easier to pass up offered food when I’m not hungry. The beer calls to me a bit more. I can still imagine, and often do, the crisp bite of that first sip of beer. The creamy top on the Guinness. Then I remember the sneezing. Today is St. Patrick’s Day and I chose to wear green instead of drinking it.

Day 140: Boredom, procrastination, and other things you don’t want to hear about

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What do we do when we're bored? We ridicule our cats. Here, Johnny is playing the role of unicorn.

This could turn out to be the most boring blog post ever, but I doubt it. There is a lot of boring crap on the internet. In fact, I currently seem to be mired in it. Suddenly there is nothing good on TV, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, or (gasp) Youtube. There is nothing I really feel like doing. Forget chores, those are always tedious. The work I am doing isn’t particularly inspiring, but it’s easy and rhythmic to do, and I am happy to be earning. Some good fast-paced music gets me through anything with a deadline. It’s the things that should be exciting to me: networking, forging ahead on my dreams, and vacation planning, that I am procrastinating.

I feel it is a somewhat momentous breakthrough to acknowledge my boredom. I have had the thought before, “Hmmmm, I’m bored.” But it usually incites action, mixed with a bit of panic. My normal response to this thought would be to get on the phone, turn to my to-do list, make an elaborate meal, and/or start drinking. Lately, instead of those things, I have just been examining it, wondering, why. Why is this life boring me?

I heard an interesting piece on NPR a few days ago about procrastination. I didn’t catch the full segment, and there were sections I couldn’t hear over my family’s racket. What I did hear amounted to: instead of beating yourself about procrastinating doing something, think to yourself, “Is this worth doing?” They said procrastination was symptom of the conflict between two parts of yourself who disagree about wanting to do something. It’s was convoluted to explain, but basically they said you have to get both parts of yourself to come to consensus on the activity.

As I write this, I am realizing that the lack of time I have spent writing this month, may be at the heart of my boredom. My rationalization could only be that my life has been too boring to write about. ie “Nothing interesting to say.” My solution here is to write about how boring my life actually is.

I also now realize that my boredom is a mere contrast to the vast upheaval of the last six months. What could be more exciting than turning your life on it’s head and doing everything in a new and different way? Now that I have settled into a pattern, the rate of change has slowed. On one hand it’s comforting and restful. On the other hand “easy” is poison to my soul.

It’s time to pick the mirror back up and start writing more. I have a few posts that I have been procrastinating on, that I will need to take a hard look at the value of. If I can’t get myself to do them, I just need to move on. Meanwhile, I should keep writing about my boring life until it’s not boring anymore.

Day 125: In defense of @Disney – At our house, princesses love yoga and disco.

Downward Dog in the Princess Yoga Class

Downward Dog in the Princess Yoga Class

The Disney princesses (all of them) are big in our house. They are in just about every make believe my daughter concocts, and next to BoBo (her best friend lovey) is about the only thing she plays with. She knows all the stories, has seen most of the feature films, owns dresses her size that she can dress up in. She is about the identical copy of just about every 4 year old girl we know.

I don’t remember how it started, but I know it wasn’t because of me. My daughter one day decided her favorite color was no longer green, it was pink. Then it just hit like a Tsunami. I take every opportunity to tell her that it’s no picnic being cooped up in the castle all the time, being nitpicked for your behavior and that the clothes were really uncomfortable. She already knows that it sucks to be forced to marry someone (thank you Jasmine) and often works this into her drama play. The princesses run away together and never get married. At the same time, she says that when she grows up, she and her best friend, Alice, are going to be Princesses. I tell her that in order to do that you will both need to marry Princes and live somewhere far far away. She seemed fine with that.

I ponder a lot as to what the fascination is with being a princess. Sure, who doesn’t secretly want to be rich and beautiful. Still, I think it’s more than that. I think small children are attracted to magical things. Our modern world is so damn drab and boring. Mom’s dress in mom jeans and drive mini-vans, and everything is brown, gray, or tan. There is no sparkle, no drama, no ta-da! I personally would prefer to live in a world of fairies, intricate ballgowns, unicorns, breathtaking castles, lavish balls, wizards etc. Wouldn’t you?

I began to ponder even more yesterday when I saw this on Facebook:

Posted by George Takei (yes the celebrity) with the message: “This may be where it starts for little girls, Parent’s think about the messages your children receive”

There were over 34,000 likes and 6,000 comments. The comments were a mix of hatred for Disney and people who loved Disney and were sad to have their icons trashed in this way.

How do I feel? I think the captions are exaggerating quite a bit. I would love to know if they were written by a man or a woman. Was this person a parent of an actual little girl? Do they realize that many of these stories are in the public domain and not even cooked up by Disney? Does George Takei know any of this? Does he have a daughter?

I am no starry-eyed Disnophile either. I feel these ladies are too sexualized – they weren’t this sexy in the films. The coy head tilts and eye batting can get pretty disgusting. This was even more apparent on the princess section on Disney.com. The giggling and breathy pauses were more Marilyn Monroe than Disney princess, and they made me want to throw up. I think I even said, “this is awful!” out loud when Melody and I were trying to find some entertainment value there. She didn’t disagree.

Disney princesses, in the mind of a small girl also are changeable to whatever she wants them to be. In our house they like to do yoga and their favorite music is disco. They save each other from peril, they trade dresses, and never talk about men.

What would I do without the princesses? Cinderella is the model of a good work ethic – maintaining your good humor, hopes, and dreams through spite and drudgery. (I still cheer for her when she gets away from those bitches). Belle loves books, thought the hottest guy in town was boring, and was willing to sacrifice herself to save a sick parent. Sleeping beauty was in love with the guy who sang with her in the woods, even though she didn’t know he was a prince. Jasmine fell in love with a pauper, even though she had all the money in the world. Snow White was super nice to animals and adopted seven little ugly working class guys and took such good care of them that they fought for her life. And Ariel, who I almost like best of all, dreamed of places far away and forbidden and risked everything to be something different (she wanted to be human BEFORE she met the guy). And they didn’t even show Rapunzel or Tiana because they would be too hard to criticize in their current Disney form. Wait until they get a load of Merida from BRAVE.

These are all classic romantic stories of love, sacrifice, and following your dreams. That is why my daughter (and I) love them. I hear that the girls are going to grow out of Princesses and start loving horses and skateboards. Yes, they do move on from princess play. However, I am in no rush. I have never stopped wanting to dress up fancy, ride horses, dance with handsome men, and hang out in castles, and I never thought any of the things in those captions.

Day 110: Oh my god, what just happened to me? Startup Weekend. #swsea

Startup Weekend

Sometime around lunch on Saturday. That’s me in the blue hat. Photo by Dwight Battle. http://blackartdirector.com/

Where do I even begin? I guess about a month ago. That was when I got a Facebook message from Kyle Kesterson. I’ve known Kyle for years now. Long before he became well known, doing things like interviews with Geekwire and traveling all over the country, excuse me, world. I am not even sure I knew that Kyle was doing those things when he asked me to attend Startup Weekend, “Rise of the Designer.” I was flattered that he remembered that I was a designer, and proud that recruiting women to attend the event was important to him.

I had never heard of Startup Weekend. I think maybe I’ve been under some kind of rock, because there have been hundreds of similar events around the country for a couple of years now. It’s huge. The basic premise is to get a bunch of people in a room for 52 hours and get them to build viable products and possibly start new companies right then and there. I am not sure I beleived it was possible. But trust me, it happens.

If I had never quit my job, I am not sure I could have committed to something like this. I had to make sacrifices. Everyone does. Not only did I sacrifice sleep, comfort, hydration, and my sanity, I had to go three days without seeing Melody but for a few minutes in the morning (and that was because I was ok with being a little late). I am so glad I had plenty of energy saved up was in a position to do this. It was one of the most thrilling, educational, and worthy things I have ever done. I met spectacular people, connected with a bunch more people on Twitter, and even made a new friend I’ll actually hang out with soon.

It’s really too bad I couldn’t have blogged live from the event, but frankly I was too busy. I left each night at close to midnight and my eyes were ready to fall right out of their sockets. I also would have loved to have written a recap yesterday, but I was barely able speak I was so exhausted and Melody wasn’t letting me out of her sight. After Melody went to bed I had several hours of paid work to do (yes, I do that now). Top that off with Melody’s pre-school closing for “snow” (not one bloody flake) today, and we arrive at post bedtime blog writing almost two days later. The good news is that I gave some extensive on camera interviews that hopefully will make it into Kyle’s video of the event – I’m gonna be famous!

What do I have to show for it? Well, there is a landing page for starters. My team was “Hungry, Thirsty, Bored.” Eric Butler pitched a mobile app that allows you to meet up with your friends in the moment, and skip all of desperate broadcasts and the back and forth trying to rally people to go out now. I always find myself in this kind of situation and I sincerely wanted, and still want, to see this tool become a reality. It got built this weekend – mostly. My main contributions were some icons, the logo featuring an ID monster that I drew, and a lot of moral support. The other designer on the team designed the app, and the developers made it work. We were very focused, and there was remarkably little drama, especially compared to other teams.

Unfortunately I think sometimes the drama is the birth pains of true inspiration. It means you are going beyond your comfort zone. It means you are doing something extraordinary, and that can be tremendously stressful. I think as a team we sold ourselves short. Eric came in with a very specific and simple idea (including wireframes) and pushed back whenever we challenged him to add more. Everything but the basics was “out of scope.” This resulted in a team who wasn’t really invested emotionally in the final product because there was very little creativity involved – just execution. Out of the 9 people we started with, at the final presentation was Eric, myself, and someone who just wanted to see the other presentations, but hadn’t spoken a word to us for two hours prior. Eric’s a great person, a talented developer, and more of a designer than he gives himself credit for, but he is not a leader – yet.

The weekend left me contemplating what I could have done differently. If I had pushed back harder (risking drama) would we have turned a corner and bonded? Or would we have completely self destructed like another team did? Would I have had more fun on another team? Or would I have had even less to contribute? The only way for me to find out is to do it again. I can’t believe I am saying it and Tom will probably make me wait at least three months, but I will go back and I will pitch – I already have an idea. It’s possible my idea won’t make it past the first round and I will end up on another team, but at least I will have tried. I want to see what happens when I get a crack at leading a team. If I do I will let them push back on me in return I will inspire them to build something they never in a million years thought they could do, let alone in a weekend.

Day 100: The top ten things I learned in the last 100 days

A section of a painting by Curtish Ashby that I saw last night. I hope to buy this as a present to myself with my first post 100 day paycheck.

The day has come. My moratorium on paid work is officially over. I have been approached for a part-time contract with Parallel Public Works. Pete, the owner, is a friend of mine from high school. We reconnected last year and I got him involved with a project at the YWCA. Pete read my blog through the links posted on Facebook and decided that his company could fulfill my requirements and the time I had available. I am excited about the mix of creativity, innovation, and technology at PPW, and I look forward to being a part of that.

When I set out on this adventure, I hoped that one day I could make a similar living in half the time. It was this concept that helped Tom get behind my decision. Tom is happy that our budget may soon be less strict and that he can justify helping out around the house more, as our time will be equally valued.

Leaving my job was a big risk. Giving up income, benefits, and reputation to jump into the abyss of the unknown was scary. I highly recommend it. Contrary the sage advice “Don’t Quit Your Job Before You Get Another One,” sometimes you need time to get your shit together – especially if you value happiness over wealth. When you are putting all your energy into a job you hate, it’s a real challenge to put in the effort required to get the job of your dreams. If you approach your time off just like you would any other project (goals, timelines, milestones, marketing) it doesn’t have to be a bad career move.

Hanging out with my dear friends, and owners of Tasty last night, we talked about dreams and financial risks. Sheri gave up a considerable salary to live her dream of selling local art. Yet, they don’t feel like they had to change their lifestyle all that much, and the minor sacrifices are more than compensated by the incredible thing they have created. I concur. We were all baffled at where all that money could have been going.

I’ll never forget Chris Hanley (1967-2001), who I befriended at Bloomberg during my internship there. I had been mooning about how wonderful it must be to make all that money and how I couldn’t wait to pull in a salary like his someday. He simply and sadly said, “You’ll always spend as much as you make.” I can now prove that he was exactly right. RIP Chris.

I am look forward to earning an income again not simply for the money that will easily get spent, but because I actually miss being a part of a team and getting things done. It took 100 days to realize that. Here are the other things I have realized:

1. Time is more valuable than money, and both are easily wasted
2. Full time work makes me fat, but not working doesn’t make me skinny.
3. It’s hard to have interesting things to write about regularly and even harder to produce photos to go with it. Out of these 100 days I wrote 45 posts and that is a bit disappointing.
4. I don’t miss downtown Seattle, and West Seattle has everything I need.
5. This experiment would have been a lot more fun in the summer months.
6. Yoga is essential to my well being, but also doesn’t make me skinny.
7. Quitting smoking was one of the best gifts I could give my family for Christmas.
8. The unstructured life of a mom is better with a lot of planning and, um, structure.
9. The Facebook effect (when you see your friends and they are already up-to-date on your activities) is nothing compared to when you have a blog.
10. My writing is good enough that my friends and family enjoy reading it.

After 100 days I feel calm and clear. I feel inspired. The question is now the “or more” part. I initially added the padding to allow myself extra time if I needed it. I thought it would be harder to find part-time work in the way I wanted it. Yet, even though I am technically done with this sabbatical, I don’t feel like my project is over entirely. I want to keep blogging (maybe not as often). I know I have not yet become the person I want to be, but I feel like I have the recipe for the life I have always dreamed of. I hope to share my continued transformation and what I learn with you here if you will let me.

Day 98: Domestic Distractions

My dashing husband in the hat I just finished for him

One would think that, during the final countdown to Day 100, you would be seeing a blog post per day with all sorts of stunning insights and revelations. Sorry, I’ve been knitting.

I obsess over knitting. Once I start a project I can’t put it down. It’s like a page-turner. I just want to get to the next step – just one more row. I stay up way too late, until my eyes are crossing and twitching. I remember my first project. I think I even played hooky from work so I could sit on the couch all day and knit.

In the last 100 days I did a bit of knitting here and there. I finished the sleeves on a humongous sweater. I knit myself a hat, as shown in one of my self-portraits. I had lost the previous hat last spring and was pleased that I could recreate it with yarn I got 2 birthdays ago. I did a Barbie dress for Melody’s dolls – seemed sane when I started it, but the end of it I was cursing myself. I also did a series of washcloths because I didn’t know what else to do. I even took my knitting on my trip to the South, and brought them with me to Melody’s play dates so I would have something to do.

I can’t knit when Melody isn’t occupied. She comes over and pulls on the yarn ball (a terrifying feeling for a knitter) and says “I wanna KNIT!, Teach me to KNIT!” I tried once to teach her to knit and it was pretty futile. Three year-olds just don’t have the hand eye coordination required. It’s ridiculous that I ever thought otherwise.

Tonight I finished Tom’s new hat. He was still wearing a hat I made him two years ago with ear flaps. It was my 3rd project ever and was a bit too small and not warm enough. On Monday I picked up a knitting book at the Library called Knitting on the Edge. It’s the coolest book full of all sorts of fancy borders. As I was oohing and ahhing over it’s photos, Tom reminded me he wanted a new hat. I dove in immediately that very night. If I hadn’t finished the new hat tonight, I probably wouldn’t have written anything here. Where are my priorities? With domesticity I guess.

Turns out I love all things domestic. You name it: cooking, cleaning, sewing, knitting, embroidery, mending, decorating, organizing, child rearing, shopping, well… sometimes, laundry… no wait, I hate that. Never mind – I just love the creative parts of home-making.

Part of the reason why I was in such a hurry to finish the hat is that I may be starting a part-time contract on Monday – the first possible day I can take paid work. The schedule I described on Day 92 was read by someone who wanted to put it into practice. I will have a lot less time for little domestic projects as I move into the next phase of my new life. I am about to be a very busy lady, and I am really looking forward to it.

Since I am going to be catching up with a dear friend tomorrow night, I will not be writing on Day 99. I will however be posting the longest and most thorough entry of this entire saga on the fabled Day 100. At that time I’ll let you know a little bit more about my new venture. Time to go and clean up my knitting basket and put it away, at least for a while, until I have time to start on my next project: socks for Melody.

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Day 93: 12 predictions for 2012

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This photo was shot just before midnight at Locol. I was able to post my draft and add a photo from my phone at the bar. I love technology.

 

It’s that time of the year again. This is the time of the year when every single media outlet (including and especially blogs) count down the top ________ of ______, or resolutions, tips, predictions for the coming year.

I wrote a post at the end of 2009 on my first (and very unproductive) blog that chronicled all the wonderful things that had happened to me in that decade. I feel like I have done the recap thing enough. At the very least, I have covered the last quarter of this year in great detail.

I choose now to be future focused. I will not dwell on the past. I will not make resolutions – which aren’t even promises. Here are my personal 12 predictions for 2012:

1. Building Ipad apps will be added to my skill set.

2. Tom and I will take Melody on her first trip to the Big Apple, and she will not want to come home.

3. We will rebuild our chicken coop and add to our flock.

3. Tom will get a raise.

4. Melody will learn to write her full name. Right now she is “Moly” and she’s fine with that.

5. My vote will be for Barak Obama and he will get re-elected

6. I will make at least 5 new friends.

7. I’ll turn 36, and this birthday will not feature a body landing on the street in front of me.

8. We will go on at least two camping trips and one of them will not include rain.

9. The 1% are going to get even more nervous.

10. It will become popular to temporarily deactivate your Facebook account, and I will try it.

11. My new Iphone will be a temporary obsession.

12. The planet will not self destruct, but it will continue to get suckier to live on.

Happy New Year!

Day 92: Busy is relative. We adapt to the norm.

Dressing up as Mary Poppins. How could I miss this?

Busy is relative. Some people work 2 jobs, take care of their kids, and go to night school. When people are unemployed, retired, or just taking a break, they find ways to fill their days. I asked my retired uncle on Christmas day to describe a typical day in the life. It involved reading the newspaper, doing chores, making meals, grocery shopping, eating meals. He admits to being a bit bored, but I bet he feels to busy to volunteer or take on a second career (I didn’t press him on that). At this point in my journey, I don’t have any idea how I used to work 40 hours a week while finding time to sleep, eat square meals and not live in total squalor. I even used to fit in an occasional visit to the gym. I believe what got sacrificed was Melody.

Out of my previous 40 hour work week, I am on full mom duty from 7 – 9 am and then again from 1 – 5 pm. That’s 30 hours in a 5 day week. For that time I save $700 a month in childcare costs, equalling a meager “paycheck” of about $175 a week. Yet, I am not doing this for the money am I? This is one thing I have confirmed on this 100 days: Melody is better off and so am I. We will never get this time back and it’s priceless.

The hours I could do paid work is when Melody is in preschool: 20 hours a week. For the last 88 days I have been using my 20 “free” hours to exercise, shop, cook, clean and do household projects – what I used to do on weekends before Melody was born, and would try to squeeze in after she came. (Honestly! I don’t remember how I used to manage it) So as I stare down the end of my moratorium on paid work, I wonder, “How will I fit work into this life?”

Tom and I did some brainstorming the other night. We know I am unwilling to give up my 2 yoga classes a week (the other thing I learned from this 100 days). What I can give up is the household projects and grocery shopping on weekdays saving those chores for late nights and weekends like working folks do. I can use my Monday and Friday morning kid-free windows to work on a project (+8 hours). Then after dinner on Tuesday and Thursday nights, I can go into our home office and work from 6-10pm (+8 hours). To get to 20 hours I have to work another 4 hours on the weekend – there goes the household projects.

This math has been leaving me to question how hard I should really be seeking out paid work. I am torn. I want to be a part of the world that contributes to the gdp. I want to spend time making cool stuff with smart people. Yet, I don’t want to lose the equilibrium I have achieved.

So if busy is relative, I suppose I can slowly creep the slider up, and perhaps I won’t even feel it. I don’t have to flip a switch like I did when I left my job. I can dip my toe in and then take a breather. Then go in up to my ankles and so on. Sooner or later I will be swimming laps.

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