Heidi Barr and I are two months into an adventure called 12 Tiny Things. We are taking one aspect of life and reflecting on it for a month in order to deepen and nurture our roots. Join us on Facebook and our website. Here are some brief notes from my month focusing on WORK:
My two little kids and I have started the ritual of sitting together in the rocking chair after they wake up from their naps. The younger lays on my lap, his head resting on my left arm and the older squeezes in next to me with my right arm around him. I love snuggling so much. I hum, breathe in the smell of their hair, caress smooth skin, and whisper, “heaven.”
“Keep rocking,” the older one offers if I let the chair rest still.
I don’t get as much “done” as I used to. Some days that’s frustrating. Yet I am grateful for my time with my children. Most days I believe that I am good at loving them and know deep in my being that is important work.
I do not write for money. Still. Two days a year I get an envelope from my agency and inside that envelope is a lot of numbers: how many books sold, how much money earned, how much of that money is enclosed for me. For a few hours, I let myself spiral and pout. I translate those numbers into worth as a writer. I start to count hours spent researching, writing and promoting. I feel small and hopeless, so I stop. I file away the numbers and get back to the work. I meditate and check my ego. I engage with the world and laugh with my kids. There are other methods to measure the value of my time and skills, but twice a year, when numbers invite me to wallow, I have to consciously choose.
“Wow, it’s so much easier to open cans now,” Dan marveled at me. We had the same can opener for ten years. It became dull so slowly I failed to notice fully how much elbow grease was necessary to open cans. We got a new one. It works really well. So tiny, so simple, yet it makes me wonder what other tools in my toolbox need sharpening. Where am I just working harder than I need to be?
“You are too hard on yourself,” my officemate repeats to me. Or she’ll gently offer, “Are you taking this too personally?”
I want my work to matter, and that often leads me to take myself too seriously at work. I get strung tight. I forget to laugh.
I believe I am a good mom, partner, yogi, and friend. I find worth there. I am committed to constant improvement, of course, but I’m at peace with my journey, my unfolding in those corners of me. I have not yet found that peace with my paid work. There is an urge to do more, to be taken seriously, to matter. Whatever that means. My challenge remains to find a sense of good enough in my public work life.