Life, with Style

We’ve been an exclusively freelancing family for a year now—not a drop of guaranteed income since December 2011—and just to write that requires a deep breath and several pinches on the arm to verify that I’m still here, that we’re still here. It doesn’t seem possible. We’ve had nothing more substantial to stand on than the prismed airstreams of faith and hope and inspiration, and I’ll be honest, the hardest part of our year came after my post on accrued miracles.

We landed on the doorstep of 2013 as shaky and windswept as if we had been flung off a roller coaster, but just as exhilarated too. For all the instability of this lifestyle and the havoc it wreaks on my imagination, we feel like we’re en route to our best selves, and that’s been enough to overrule surges of panic and impulses to snatch up ill-fitting jobs. We pray like schizophrenics, listen to heart-nudges, eat lots of soup, and try to keep our forward momentum into new realms of possibility. It’s a morale-saver, that possibility.

It can also be a soul-snuffer, at least where my manic work philosophy comes into play. Without a clearly defined workday or bite-sized goals, I view all that possibility as my direct and urgent responsibility. Must! accomplish! All The Things! NOW! Inevitably, after three or four days of frenzied work and no play, Jack isn’t simply a dull boy; he’s a burned-out, scary-eyed, hormonal mess of a zombie housewife.

(This is what happens when a lover of hyperbole is allowed to freelance.)

I’ve always been quick to prioritize the life out of my time, though I know well how it leads to a cycle of dissatisfaction and burnout and despair and snooze button abuse, followed by a reluctant admission that my brain belongs in rehab and a resolve to do better (which I add to my to-do list because I’m also a lover of irony). Really, though, that is my mission for this year: to put the life back into my lifestyle. To recondition my sense of accomplishment and let myself feel happy dammit!, even if the only thing I’ve managed to do in the day is love well. To choose margins for my time instead of wallowing helplessly in too-much-to-do. To care for my physical, spiritual, relational, and creative self, you know, on purpose.

This is probably the hardest resolution I could make for myself right now. I’m more comfortable with sacrifice than I am with solace, and I’ve adopted versions of this goal in the past without it sticking any better than my resolve to give up sugar (I tried that once in high school for a whole day; I know better now). I have to figure this out though if I plan to enjoy our second year of freelancing adventures.

Which I most absolutely do.

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  1. It doesn’t seem like it has been a year already! I love your goal, and I believe that you can do it! Buy a timer. It helps me to DO something, maybe it will help you to STOP doing something… HA! 🙂

  2. this.is.me.100%.

    “I have resolved to put life back into my lifestyle.” Beautifully written!
    I have found myself pulled into a murky state of mild depression and as I stepped away for a week, that was the truth that God spoke to my burned out, weary soul– “stop working.”
    And so, I have. Every evening, after the kids are in bed, I enjoy my home (or it’s messy remains) and every day, I slow down enough to savor my kids.
    I have light in my eyes again and joy in my spirit.
    And the amazing thing is….
    my To-Do list is shrinking faster than it has in months. Possibly years.

    Hugs and love to you and yours!

  3. As a fellow freelancer I feel your pain…and anxiety…and exhilaration. 🙂 Still learning that balance of good work ethic and good caretaker of my own self and my Bear. Getting there though. 🙂 And I’m so much further along than I was. That’s something to celebrate. 🙂

  4. I’ve learned a lot about getting things done by myself in 6 (6!!) years of grad school; have struggled for many years with that drive to accomplish! all things! NOW! The biggest help has been learning to work a little every day. The big things get much bigger when I don’t look at them for weeks, and feel much more manageable when I look at (think about) them more often.

    There is so much bravery, humor, and insight in this post. Happy one year of freelancing!

  5. Megsie – Ha! A timer to STOP doing something? You know me well, friend. 🙂

    Tiffany – I love that, all of it. I’ve actually been mulling over your comment all day, in a this-is-fantastic-how-can-i-apply-it-to-me way, and knowing we’re in such a similar stage of life with such similar personalities makes it all the more hopeful that I’ll figure out how to slow down a savor one of these days too.

    Krista – If your beauty-steeped blog posts are any indication, then you are doing FABULOUSLY at the freelancing life. I could learn a lot from you, I suspect!

    Willow – Not looking at the big things for weeks is such good advice, and something I need to put into practice more often. I have this irrational conviction that if I don’t hold everything in my brain at once, all the time, it won’t ever get done… and as charming as I’m sure it is to wail to my husband about the stress of something we have to figure out six months from now, we would all be much happier if I could clear my mindspace and take one moment at a time. Thanks so much for your comment!

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