Recently a friend complimented me on my time management skills. Her words made me think about these supposed skills. I held them up to the light to give them a closer examination. My conclusion is that these are not the skills she was looking for. I simply fake it well.
Most of my success is based on other people. First and foremost, my husband is my major support. He was raised by independent spirits. His mother, his father, their partners, they all are dream chasers and visionaries. He’s used to it. He is supportive and wonderful. He wanted me to write years ago. I feel a little silly for not taking him up on his offer sooner. Not only does he support me by saying, “I support you,” he steps up and cooks dinner, minds our son, and keeps up with household demands. We still split the chores, but that’s just it. We split the chores. It frees up time, and makes sure he gets free time as well.
Next, I have a lot of friends who understand how busy I’ve become. I have a roster of who I can see and when. My world is becoming colored by my burgeoning writing career, and I thought that would somehow create a loss of friendships. At the time I didn’t realize how many of my friends are just as interested in writing as I am. I thought I was a bit of a lone wolf, but it turns out that I have a pack of “lone wolves” just waiting for me to join them.
Beyond my support group, I will admit to having too many irons in the fire. I agree to too much, and it can’t last. I have no wiggle room for birthdays or anniversaries, for the events that spring up in our lives. There is no routine, there is simply darting from one random event to the next, like a butterfly with the hiccups. However, the balance between work and play, the balance between must and should, the balance between family and friends, these things have been maintained thus far. My house suffers. My bedroom is littered with abandoned paperwork, half-thought through projects, and homeless books. My carpet is neglected. Legos live on every flat surface of my living room.
But the kitchen is clean, the dishes are done, the laundry gets washed. The chores that matter are done, and done consistently. My son’s bed isn’t made every morning, but he’s learning. This is how life works.
I am okay with a somewhat messier house, because I had to break out of the happy housewife routine. Before my writing career, I was the person cleaning the house, cooking all the meals, ferrying Toby, keeping him entertained. It felt like I was doing that all so my husband could play the next installment of Mass Effect. That was not a self-sustaining setup, and it had to change. My husband was honestly excited when I brought this problem to him. And now that our household setup has changed, I’m a much happier person.
It isn’t easy to balance as much as I do. Sometimes I forgo a meeting, or cancel a class. Sometimes I have to choose between helping a friend and meeting people I could network with. Sometimes I have to cancel with a friend. (So far that’s worked but I fear the day it doesn’t.) I remember my days as a flakey person and I dread going back to that. I won’t let myself. I do ride along the edge once in a while.
My problem has become that my writing has almost made me too busy to write. Between social media, keeping up a blog, making connections with other local authors and artists, and editing my second novel, I have found it difficult to do what I got into this community to do. Write.
There is something about doing a thing you’re passionate about. The energy involved is give-and-take instead of just give. Receiving energy back boosts you, allowing you to take that one additional step. The reality is my time management skills are made of energy. I’m in a performance, juggling knives while balanced on a unicycle. What keeps me from mistakes? The fact that I love what I do more than I fear that I could get hurt by it.