TOP 10 — #2 The Back and Forth of Work

TOP 10 — #2 The Back and Forth of Work


My intention to create a record of the top ten life experiences from the last decade and my goals for using those experiences as a springboard to live out the next decade in more positive, less draining ways has shifted a bit.

After reading Chapter Nine – The Most Important List in Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing, I did not take the timing of this reading as a “coincidence.” Essentially, that is what I am doing with this series of posts. Though she recommends looking at a shorter period of time (weeks or months vs years or a decade in my case!) — I realized that the first four topics on my Top Ten list were LIFE DRAINING. No wonder I am so tired!

However, the awesome and encouraging result of looking at my list as either Life Draining or Life Giving, is that my goals going forward are mostly all LIFE GIVING!

So, my quandary now is do I continue to explore these topics in separate posts, or summarize them and move on? Even if I bore my readers, I do think it’s important for me to express each area of my life in a detailed post. Being able to identify each topic as LIFE DRAINING or LIFE GIVING should help me to hone in on the important details. But we shall see!

Top Ten 2010-2019 – From Stay at Home Mom to Full-Time Employee and then Business Partner

JOB CHANGES – After eleven years as a stay-at-home-mom, I joined the workforce again after our move to California in 2011. I’d obtained two degrees while at home, which provided opportunity to work for a magazine. Though the pay didn’t nearly cover my student loan debt, it was enough to cover our minimum expenses. My husband began working for a flooring company so he could continue in the same trade.

There is no question that my job at the magazine was LIFE DRAINING. Not only did I work my tail off and wear the hats of many job descriptions, most of my work went unappreciated or under-appreciated. Most of the time my supervisor made me feel like I wasted my time — even when my work resulted in the realization that her Bay Area distributor had been charging her for distributing magazines he was not delivering!

I don’t want to speak badly about my bosses or the ladies I worked with the three years I was there. Looking back, perhaps it was not the best fit for me. Or perhaps the purpose was temporary. After all, it paid enough for us to make ends meet and gave me the recent work experience required for me to get the next job.

For my husband, he had obtained a job that paid pretty good, but was again, very draining. He commuted three hours a day or more. He was on his own to complete every project in a set timeline and for a flat rate. Though he did learn some great flooring techniques and was appreciated by his supervisor, eventually exhaustion kicked in and the quality of his work began to wane.

So with both of us exhausted and not sure we could keep up the current pace, we were both laid off within six weeks of each other at the end of 2014! I had to laugh when I drove away with my last paycheck. I had actually prayed for something to give only days earlier as I walked past my writing desk. I couldn’t understand how God would have connected me with a great group of writers who had helped me finally get my first novel ready to publish while simultaneous requiring so much of me between work and raising our four kids, I had nothing left to give to the final stages of my book edits prior to publication.

There was no question that unemployment meant I first needed to finish both novels for my No Eye Has Seen series. But that is another topic I will explore in a different post soon!

Back to the topic of jobs. Obviously, having two completed manuscripts would not create the instant income I would need to contribute to our current living expenses. And when my husband also got laid off, I admit we took some time to rest and pray about the next step. The concept of moving back to Idaho did come up, but I was honestly not ready for a big move and did not want to take our boys out of the school district they’d been in the whole time we’d been in California.

Once the shock of unemployment settled in and we’d found a less expensive rental in the same neighborhood (another odd experience that was life draining, but thankfully very temporary!) — then the serious job hunting began.

Finally – A LIFE GIVING JOB!

It was nothing but a godsend for me to find employment working for a company that sold nutritional supplements. It was the perfect blend of using my web editing, administration, and nutritional background experience (due to my youngest son’s health issues).

Not only that, but my new boss was amazing! She appreciated everything I brought to the table, asked for my suggestions and let me take on numerous projects to help improve the website and social media goals. Even though from the start, we both knew the job could be temporary.

Then came the moment my husband and I made the ultimate decision to move back to Idaho. He had been given a job offer that had the potential to support us one its own. This would mean being closer to our newly married daughter, far lower living expenses, and a far better chance of me being able to write full time.

There were two things I needed to do before finalizing the transition. One, ask if there was any way I could keep working remotely until my husband’s income was sufficient. And two — get to my first Mount Hermon Writers conference (which is near Santa Cruz, CA) as a way to catapult my focus on writing before relocating to Idaho.

Praise the Lord, I was able to do both!

Balancing Business and Writing in the Next Decade (2020 – 2030 Focus)

Well, our plans for me to write while my husband worked for someone else went by the wayside pretty quickly. Within weeks of old business connections finding out my husband was back in town, it became very obvious we were to start our business back up again.

We didn’t have a business partner this time around, so I took on the administration, website, and marketing end of things (thanks to all my job experience in California, I was highly qualified to take this on!) We tried to start small, but business grew fast. It was a mix of blessings and burdens as we had a lot of trial and error and I again had to put writing goals aside.

Thankfully, with over three years of business ownership under our belts, we have stabilized things within the business. In addition, owning a home again (something we would not be able to do without the business) has taken the draining situation of temporary housing off my lap. Now, I have a system down for my business responsibilities that I can usually stay on top of with only two to three days a week of work.

This finally, finally puts me in a place of potential balance where I no longer have life-draining factors leaving me feeling like I cannot devote regular time to my writing endeavors.

Arriving at a Balance of Work and Creativity

Owning a home and creating spaces of creativity are essential elements to inspiring me to write. Now, I say that and am reminded that over the previous decade I still managed to write three full-length fiction manuscripts and most of a fourth along with two editions of a non-fiction book documenting my journey as a mom with children with multiple food allergies and intolerances.

It’s not that I can’t write during the fluctuations of life. It’s that for the past year or so, I’ve chosen to put other things ahead of writing in order to position myself to eventually fully commit to the practice of writing on a regular basis in the way I would prefer — without life-draining factors preventing me from giving my all to my stories.

Back to my point about space to have an “inspiring writing experience”. I am not short on ideas in the least. In fact, I am beginning a Tuesday commitment to write a blog a week for this entire year (even though I am posting this on Friday this week!). Over the past few weeks, my husband and I transformed our finished basement (that our young adult boys had quickly turned into what looked like a bachelor pad) into a multi-use open area for movies, crafts, puzzles, kids toys and a separate office space for the business so that I could make my upstairs office space solely dedicated to my writing projects.

2020 is going to be all about making our new (but historically old) home and property a Creative Space and a Gathering Place. For the past few months, I’ve listened to and been reading Emily P Freeman’s The Next Right Thing and she’s spoke on the topic of giving ourselves room for our souls to breathe. And I realize that’s what’s been missing in my life for at least the past decade.

A few weeks ago, when I built a fire in our basement and began to bring business paperwork and files downstairs, I allowed myself to stop and breathe. It seems like this past decade has given me little space (both in a spiritual sense and in my physical surroundings) to participate in this important LIFE GIVING practice

I stared at the flames of logs burning, the warmth caressing my cheeks as my back embraced the still frigid chill of the basement family room. I watched birds take turns feeding from the two feeders I filled up outside, one, having filled with snow overnight, required a human to dust off and refill.

Snow began to fall again early afternoon, sweeping past the picture windows at fast, horizontal speeds. It was hours later that my daughter came by for a quick visit and told me that the snow was now inches high outside. From my spot near the fire, I couldn’t see the ground through the window.

The song Way Maker comes to mind when I think back to that moment. Even during the times I couldn’t see God working — during those times where my job was draining every ounce of energy and I questioned everything that had brought me there. Even when we both lost our jobs and couldn’t fathom how we would pay or rent or keep up on our car payments. Even when the thought of relocating to Idaho made me angry and sad that we would have to move our boys again — He was working so many miracles!

It is still surreal to be sitting here in my living room filled with beautiful furniture and decor, the warmth of the upstairs pellet stove caressing my feet as my laptop warms my legs. And regardless of the state of my work — whether I am working on a home project, working for our business, working as a caregiver for our two grandchildren, or working on writing, I can know without a doubt that God is working too!

Even when I don’t see it, You’re working

Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working

You never stop, You never stop working

You never stop, You never stop working

Even when I don’t see it, You’re working

Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working

You never stop, You never stop working

You never stop, You never stop working

https://youtu.be/iJCV_2H9xD0

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