Stress, then clarity

packclimbThis is too much stuff. I can’t do all of this. I can tell because I’m getting really snappish and saying things I don’t mean. To the point where I can’t believe I even said them because they were so far off from what I meant. Sometimes they’re dumb, and sometimes they are even unkind. Not good.

This has brought a few things into perfect clarity, though. In my life outside of my job, there is work that I’m passionate about, and work that I’m doing only for the money. The work I’m passionate about – local food systems, Preserving Traditions, and the like – feeds me. I’d do that work even if no money were involved (and there usually isn’t). I can’t wait for an evening or weekend off so I can work on it. It energizes me to do it.

Then there’s the work for money. I drag my feet; I delay by asking the client questions I know I’ll end up having to answer for them, anyway; I dread the work as the dose of medicine I have to take before I can go play. When I started working full-time again (after 5 years working for myself), I quit taking outside work. It felt great. Time is such a great luxury, and I was learning to use it for interesting and fulfilling things. At some point, we needed cash for…something. I don’t even remember what. So I did some web site redesigns and took on some instructional design consulting. It was ok, but I either hated it (web stuff) or it was just more of my day job, spilling over into my gardening time (putting courses online).

A couple similar jobs have come along recently, and I really dithered. We don’t, strictly speaking, need the money…but in this economy, why would I turn it down? So I took the jobs, and now I’m regretting it.

This work for cash I don’t really need makes me crazy, and it means when work I love comes along (as it has), I can’t pick up that project. And that very thing has happened. I spent much of the day in a tizzy, trying to figure out where to start. I finally stopped and admitted to myself that this is too much stuff to be doing, and I can’t do it all. And since I can’t get out of the contracts I’ve already got going, I’m going to have to finish those and pass on the one that I’m really excited about.

Being an adult sucks sometimes.

In related news, I cleaned the kitchen today. This included sorting a huge stack of mail, filing stuff, finding homes for the random crap that always accumulates on the dining table. And there weren’t even guests coming over! I also found myself planning meals around which condiments I could use up and which pre-cooked items in the freezer I could eat and thus get rid of. Use it up, move it out.

Having “extra” only makes me feel good when I’m scared. Having “extra” when I’m feeling inclined to trust the Universe really weighs me down. Food storage…stocking the pantry…buying half a pig…having extra toiletries…buying a winter’s worth of firewood…it feels good in some ways, but in others, it’s a burden. A responsibility. (Are the squash getting mushy? Do we actually need turmeric? [The answer there is a resounding NO, but we are out of garlic powder…]) I could see clearly today that this is true of extra money, extra food, and probably even the extra weight I carried through our transition years when my sweetie was in grad school, when we had 2 mortgages and no steady jobs, and the first years at my new job. A little extra padding to soften the jolts, or something.

So now I want to trim, clean, weed and prune. Out with the dead weight.

Am I feeling fearless? Is that a good thing? Am I hopeful, or complacent?

Or just tired?



  1. Leasmom said,

    January 31, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    I’d keep the jobs and put away so that you can go back to living the way you want someday. I have a friend that is stuck at her job without any option out and I pray daily she’ll find it and if she gets upset and wants to quit, she’d lose her house and wouldn’t be able to feed her three kids. So, if you can keep going a little bit longer, put it aside as your escape money and when you really get tired of it, you can step away and feel good about it.

  2. TeacherPatti said,

    February 1, 2009 at 12:29 am

    I agree–put the money away or put it towards your mortgage. It does suck to be an adult–I often get really angry that I don’t have the luxury to stay home. But then I remember that I actually like my job–and it’s a good job! Can I go back to being a kid??? 🙂

  3. February 1, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I’ll give a different perspective – let go of those jobs so that those who TRULY need them might have them instead.

    Life is too short and everyone has some kind of great need right now. It sounds like your need is for more time and less stress. That’s a valid need too. Most successful entrepreneurs have said something along the lines of “find your passion – the money will come.” I’m a firm believer in that, even in this economy. The sheer energy and commitment that you’ve brought to your outside of work activities proves that you have that true passion.

    Just my .02

  4. Ken said,

    February 1, 2009 at 9:32 am

    The nice thing about having too much is that you can stop, if not instantly. I’m glad you’ve got a clearer sense of what you want; it has been my experience observing you that you are really good at finding ways to shift the world when you’ve decided what you want.

    (Also: would you like some turmeric-intensive recipes? I think I’ve got one or two.)

  5. Suzie said,

    February 1, 2009 at 9:42 am

    PS- (I’m getting low on turmeric if you actually have excess.)

  6. Emily said,

    February 1, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Thanks, folks. I want to be clear here that I’m not talking about my 9-5 job; I’m talking about some outside “moonlighting” that I’m doing. Truly EXTRA work. I would like to let someone who needs it take it on, but interested parties seem thin on the ground. 🙂 I’m definitely doing sensible things with the money; these projects will help pay for the well we need to drill in the spring, and this kind of work has made some generous gifts to Food Gatherers possible in the last year. My bigger concern is for my sanity. Jen, you hit it on the head: I need more time for my passions, and less stress.

    Ken and Suzie – Turmeric away! Some of it is even home-ground; I got fresh root and dried it, and just ground it up yesterday. I’m trying to grow it like I’m growing the ginger.

  7. Suzie said,

    February 1, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Oh COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How are you always doing the coolest things ever?!

    I can’t wait to see the eventual turmeric plant.

  8. Buttercup said,

    February 4, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    How can this be? I thought you were Superwoman (or Wonder Woman, take your pick). I was getting pretty intimidated with all your accomplishments. You mean you actually have limits???

    I’d like to say that I appreciate your blogroll. I’ve bookmarked a number of them. Nice to know a lot of other people are worrying out there.

  9. February 19, 2009 at 5:53 am

    […] Having “extra” only makes me feel good when I’m scared. Having “extra” when I’m feeling inclined to trust the Universe really weighs me down. [More] […]

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