I have this recurring dream. It hits the subconscious cycle of my sleep zone about once or twice a week lately. I’m frantic. It’s the final day of my beach destination vacation. I’m scrambling around trying to pack things and prepare to head home. All of my stuff is in the drawers, which never happens in real life when I travel, so I’m yanking each drawer open and heaving things into my suitcase. I keep noticing how fast the time is moving and we are cutting it dangerously close getting out the door to the airport.
I keep glancing out the window at the perfect weather. The sun beaming, a light breeze gliding through palm trees. The easy, relaxed waves lapping up on the sand just outside my room, and I am totally overcome with disappointment because I was SO BUSY during my vacation that I hadn’t yet made it outside to enjoy the beach and relax.
“WHAT?! How did this happen again?” I yell to myself in my frenzied state. I flew all the way to a tropical island and I didn’t take the time to enjoy it. Gah!!!
Then I wake up, usually with my pulse racing.
This dream is so vivid and frequent that I have embraced it as a friendly reminder that time goes fast, and I need to slow down enough to enjoy the things I love most in this world while I’m busy checking off the endless to-do list of running two start-up companies from home, plus my own comedy performances and other one-off contract jobs.
In waking hours, I daydream of beaches. A warm beach, anywhere, is always the top of my list of preferences when planning a getaway. But on a day to day basis, it is time with my family that is paramount.
Here’s the truth, I grew up as a Mormon (and am still an active, practicing Mo.) I expected that I would someday get married and stay home and pop out a half-dozen kids, while the hubby was off at work. I was also raised with impeccable work ethic thanks to my mother and step-father who showed me hard work by example, and helped me understand that I would need to work in order to participate in extra-curricular activities because I was the youngest of six kids in this blended family and it wasn’t exactly raining Benjamins in our household.
I didn’t mind. I still don’t mind hard work. It is satisfying to put in time and effort to accomplish something. I’ve always had more than one job, ever since I was old enough to hold employment, and I worked a lot as a kid mowing the lawn, doing my own laundry from about age eight, and working with my step-father helping with tasks around construction sites. Nowadays, I don’t have a “day job,” per se, but I have an endless list of tasks for the multiple businesses and projects I run from home after an abrupt change in my employment came to pass when I was six months pregnant with my now fourteen-month-old.
I never stopped to calculate how long I would work until I would have kids and shift to “staying home.” All things just happen simultaneously, and it just works out, one way or the other. I didn’t try to hit a certain level of success or check off a certain financial goal before becoming a mother. And on the flip side, I haven’t felt like I have to bench my own ambitions and work projects because I have children.
I’m in a season of life where I just make slow but steady progress with all of the above. The cart and the horse sit next to each other in my garage. If I didn’t have kids, sure, I could travel more often and book myself (in theory) left and right for comedy gigs and improv trainings all over the country. I could spend multiple nights a week at open mics ironing out new material. The world would be my oyster, but that isn’t a viable option for me. Not right now. But it doesn’t mean I don’t have the desire and the hustle to still make things happen. I’m futuristic enough to believe that all my efforts now will have me smooth-sailing from gig to gig from my 40’s until death.
Budgeting time to building my small business projects and personal brand while raising these kids who are growing faster than I can believe is hard. I know that my professional progress is slow. Much slower than I prefer, but I’m realistic with the expectations I set for myself today, and this week, and pace myself with my 3-5 year plans.
I have to dip into the very parched well of patience and truly pace myself. Sometimes that means shifting the focus for what needs to happen now. And knowing things will change, inevitably, and unexpectedly to force those shifts. Like writing a book I felt an unrelenting prompting to write. Last week I finished the manuscript for a book about my unplanned hidden pregnancy, turned beautiful adoption story that was not even on my radar 18 months ago, but life changes and when you feel a burning in your heart to do something, you do it, barring that burning isn’t just a case of heartburn from poor snacking decisions.
The fact that things get done is nothing short of a miracle, and I give all the credit to a Heavenly Father who knows my capacity far better than I, and He sets things and people and opportunities in my path that allow me to accomplish these things.
I have faith that I can do these things. And faith is an ACTION word. You can’t just have faith and sit and wait for things to happen. No, no! You have to keep digging in and putting in the work, or in the particular case of writing a book out of nowhere, typing until my fingers were sore nubs and collapsing onto the couch with a headache from crying so dang hard, so dang many times. I hate the word “multitasking” because it doesn’t actually exist. It is scientifically impossible for your brain to do more than one thing at a time, so I call it “always-tasking.” I’m always moving, always doing something, always alert to the world around me so personally and professionally I am always accomplishing things, even when it is slow-going.
I used to get terribly frustrated with how long it takes me to get things done. Honestly, some days I still get frustrated if I didn’t check a single work-related task off, so I’ve learned to cooperate with myself and itemize easier tasks that I can pounce on when my time is ultra-limited, and save the bigger to-dos for when I have a couple hours here or there.
Baby steps are better than zero steps, and as I’ve watched my babies learn to walk, they have demonstrated how far and fast one can go with many, many baby steps.
I’m not taking the usual route, but I’m getting closer to my goals my way. That is the beauty about the place and time we live in. Not everyone is this lucky, so I am grateful every single day. I stay grateful for the opportunity to do what I love, even though the paychecks are wildly inconsistent, and that on its own adds flavor to this bubbling pot of stress stew.
Here’s a shout out to all you boss-ladies, momtrepreneurs, hardworkin’ women who are taking a stand and making crap happen. Whether you work from home or punch in on a clock, whether you have kids or pets or none of the above, and whether you are fresh out of high school or wondering when all those grays came in, this is YOUR time. Your path won’t look like everyone else’s and that’s what makes your path so rad.
The time for being an entrepreneur/mom/dreamer/always-tasker/never-settler has never looked better for women. So climb your mountain and post your flag all the way at the flippin’ top of that sucker.