Working Hard at Working Hard and Looking for Opportunity

TODAY’S BREW: Gingerbread, because I’m still holding on.

By Julie 

BEST OF NEW YEARS TO YOU ALL!

I don’t know about you guys, but a new year for me doesn’t start out with I’M GOING TO CHANGE EVERYTHING I DON’T LIKE AND DO BETTER AT ALL THE THINGS I DO LIKE AND ALL OF THIS I WILL DO FROM A TREADMILL AND ALSO GIVE UP SUGAR.

New years start for me more like

Christmas decorations have invaded and conquered

I’d really like a new couch. Again. As I do yearly.

I have six books I want to write

I don’t want to write

the gym would be awesome

*does six situps, watches tv*

*cleans the kitchen, living room gets messier while no one is in there*

*struggles with wanting to change into a new planner despite this planner going for another seven months*

*chalks up laziness to “enjoying this time”*

*watches movies, eats crap*

*goes to bed*

I do THIS every year now, too: I run myself ragged (this year more so than usual) the month before Christmas until the week of Christmas break I cannot think of anything but relaxing with my family–which is perfect. I wouldn’t change THAT for the world.

Then January first comes along.

Leftover Chinese food calls to me.

The kids have a half week of school in which I readjust to normalcy as best I can, but by Sunday I feel as though I’ve wasted my life.

My focus goes from family to CLEAN THIS GODDAMN HOUSE to shit, I haven’t touched my newsletter in months. 

*start PR from scratch*

In any case, what I want to say here is that this is a pattern for me. And like any pattern, it creates some discord where I want to break out of it, but year after year I fall into it.

For me, the new year isn’t a renewal of self, it’s a building from the ground up after running myself ragged. That whole “self care” thing is generally me working so hard at working hard that I suddenly just need to rest.

And there it is, folks.

I work hard at working hard. 

*suddenly blog post becomes something else*

I’m a hard worker. I throw myself into everything I do with such force and determination that it burns me out. But working from home, 5:00 never comes. There’s not a point in the day that I’ve worked as much as I can and it’s time to go home, chill and get back up the next day. There’s also no steady paycheck, and because of that every moment that I’m not actively doing things is a loss of money in my mind. Plight of the middle class, I guess. That line of thinking has consequences. I pick up odd jobs like a freak. (Currently working three part time jobs from home). It’s impossible to do three jobs 100%. I am not 300% of a person. So even while working hard at all three, I’m still losing money if I look at it too deeply.

NEVER LOOK TOO DEEPLY.

Then I go back to the reasons I work from home. And there are many:

  • my physical condition was such a nightmare that I almost DIED from overworking myself at my out-of-home job.
  • my mental condition was worse than my physical condition.
  • being away from my kids as long as I was and coming home too tired to be the best mother I could was destroying me. Like, puking in the bathroom at work after sobbing all the way there kind of destruction.
  • I want to think my body and mind don’t need a lot of attention, but they do. They just really, really do.
  • now that I AM home with my kids, I’ve been able to throw myself completely into their care–and if I hadn’t been here, I would never have seen the extent of Sam’s disorders, and his mental condition would be partially dependent upon my work schedule.
  • I’m home to do homework. And to volunteer at school, and run the book fairs, and be present for activities. Every day can be movie night, game night, whatever night we want. We’re together and we can talk. Once again, that means I see Sam’s mental health, I see Ben’s anxiety levels. I can do something about them.
  • Wait, wait, listen to this: I can actually take care of my home.
  • I’m living my dream: I’m an author. End of story.

And it comes down to this every time, right? Every time I wonder why I work hard at working hard it comes down to listing the reasons why I belong at home. From my own mental health (because quite frankly, I still have nightmares about working outside the home) to being able to run the little Christmas store at school to living my dream of being an author, the thing I went to school for, the thing that’s always been my end goal.. I have to list it to justify why I don’t make 50 grand a year anymore.

I AM NOT A DOLLAR SIGN.

I AM NOT A DOLLAR SIGN.

I AM NOT A DOLLAR SIGN.

I can say it all I want, but it never stops plaguing me. Knowing that I can do MORE, even if it kills me–until it kills me–it’s always there, under the surface.

In the meantime, I can’t devote all my time to writing and marketing or freelance editing, because I’m spreading myself too thin to prove that I have value.

I AM INHERENTLY VALUABLE.

I suffer no lack of self-confidence. I know I’m a lot of things to a lot of people, and I’m a lot of things to myself. But the part of me that dives right into everything and learns along the way is really prominent. It’s something I’ve always been proud of. It’s something I try to instill in my children, that there is no better way to learn than by doing, and learning is the crux of living.

Despite telling them that they learn by doing, they still do not make me coffee.

Maybe this year what I should learn by doing is to say no to taking every single opportunity afforded me.

That sounds NUTS.

But one thing I’ve learned in life is that opportunity comes to me because I’m always looking for it. Thus, lots of opportunities come up in my world because I’m very open. I talk to everyone. Prime example: Went to the Minute Clinic yesterday because it sounds like there’s an ocean in my ear. (I’m fine.) A couple of women who did not look like they got out of a Rolls Royce were also there. They talked to me–and I talked back.

Come to find out, one of those women just returned from a two month stint in Africa working in an orphanage. The other one has some mental health issues and has two older kids who have Bipolar Disorder just like my Sam does.

These are things that take a toll on people. While some others made sure to look the other way when their eyes met because these ladies were kind of a mess, I didn’t, and I met two people that are entirely devoted to others, at their own expense. I learned a couple of things then.

  1. Judging a book by its cover never goes away. I’ll  never do that–unless it’s an actual book because come on. Cover art is everything.
  2. Caring takes a toll.
  3. Value isn’t in what others see.
  4. Lulumon lady with the super nice purse probably didn’t play board games with needy kids in Africa this week.
  5. Maybe Lulumon lady did…but she never met my eyes and we never spoke.
  6. That woman who went to Africa chose to come home, no matter how much it hurt her to do so, even though she could help forever. That there was so much more to be done. I don’t know how to stop doing. 

There’s no measure for doing good in the world. While I can say that this editing job made me x amount of money, I cannot give the measure of what it means to know what every meal my children eat is, what the value of that is. The editing job gets finished and I can see what my work did, in real time. The momming job never ends, and I’ll never know when I’ve done enough. I’ll never know on paper how much worth I had at working hard. Even in writing, I can type THE END and measure how much the expenses of publishing and the ongoing income of the end result comes to. At the end of the Scholastic Book Fair I can say exactly how much money we’ve made the school and how many books went home with kids and into classrooms. But when it comes to just plain doing good? Being the best person I can be? I never know when to stop. I never know when I’ve done enough. I never know how to slow down.

I said my first NO to a book signing opportunity for the week after Christmas.

I’m still thinking about how much cash that would have made me. And I also know how much more health it would have cost me.

Opportunities and DOING aren’t any good if you can’t enjoy them.

Enjoying the good you do matters.

A good deed is still good if you have something to gain from it.

I don’t know if there was anything to be learned here for you. I like the idea that there is. I know that just writing this has helped me along the path to just being able to say I’m going to stop doing this now. It may not be done, but I am. 

Also, I am done right now.

BYE GUYS. Be you this year.

 

 

 

 

 

On Strength and Presence and Refusing to Wear Shame Like a Crappy Shirt

TODAY’S BREW: “Regifted Brew,” which is an actual thing I got at Big Lots.

(the biggest of lots, the greatest of lots, the lots that’s gots more than any other lots gots)

By Julie 

HI. I fall off the planet all the time, and like all bloggers and writers and people, it seems, I always apologize for it, like I have to SHOW UP TO LIFE or something. Even now I want to give a reason why I don’t blog on a regular schedule, or make excuses about why my social media presence has been spotty at best, or even why I’m not writing consistently.

But I don’t have to do that.

Nobody does.

You don’t owe someone your presence. Presence by its very nature requires that you ignore all the other things considered a constant presence. Like Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and blogging and emailing (non-urgent), and all that garbage that does indeed serve a purpose, but makes us servants to it. 

Presence is living your life, the thing that fulfills you so that those other “presences” are not a responsibility or time owed.

There’s a term, “shadow of a leader.” Means that the culture is that of the leader. Means when that the team (in this case, my readers and followers and friends, people I affect), feel the leader’s influence even when the leader is looking the other way. A sort of “what would Julie do” overall feeling.

Now, I am an egotistical bastard, but even I know the world doesn’t usually think “what would Julie do,” but I work at being an inspiration, a motivator, through my words, my books, my actions. So yeah, it matters to me that people look to me as a guide. That’s what a leader is–someone who cares how their people live. And you guys are my people. And I am a leader.

A good leader isn’t always on A game. Because people aren’t always on A game. (or else A game would just be “the game” and LIFE ISN’T A FUCKING GAME, PEOPLE.) A good leader reflects the team just as much as the team is influenced by the leader. They learn from each other. They take care of each other. A family. A human goddamn family. 

So in this last period of falling off the planet, it wasn’t because of anything, as much as I feel like I should explain myself. There was nothing wrong–in fact, everything is great. Christmas was the best one yet for our kids. Truly magical. I feel FANTASTIC. That surgery has made me whole by taking things out. My family is happy, my home is cozy, and I’m enjoying the hell out of it. It’s not always about doing things. For someone who is always doing things, this is a little odd sometimes. Because I did stop doing things. I haven’t written, haven’t done much in the way of promotion, my book schedule is totally off…

And looking for the first time in too long at my book sales, I found that yeah, they obviously suffered, but you know what? Nobody died.

I stopped doing stuff and nobody died. The planet still turns. The birds keep chirping, the air keeps…airing. Then my buddy on Twitter did THIS.

shadow of a leader

I said at one point that I’m not failing–I’m learning what I can do. The state of the universe doesn’t rely on “launch day.” Life is a launch.

It’s fabulous to feel like all the doing of things eventually means like I don’t always have to be doing things. That the doing has led to done.

 

 

 

Oh, I’ll never be done with promo and writing and editing and writing more and the world of the indie author is stuffed to bursting with the things that can be done. But I can do it at my own pace, and eventually it will lead to the resting period where I’m enjoying the journey as much as I’m working to trespass it.

There’s a difference between being lazy and taking a break, I’ve always said. I’ve taken a much needed break. But instead of getting back to the grind until I’m falling over myself to take a break again, now I can do my business at a pace where I’m okay to work myself to the bone, let myself fall into the wonderfully taxing writing where I can’t think or breathe anything but that book, and then take a day or a week off to do all the other stuff. The world won’t end if I’m not doing all of it at once. On the contrary, the world of the Shinigami vampires has, in effect ended, because I was juggling too many balls to give the last book all of the obsessive, filthy-haired, pajama-wearing, crap-eating attention it craves. crave. A day where I just write. I haven’t had that in….I can’t remember the last time. Where there was no time limit or word count limit so I could move on to something else. I don’t want to give my world 50%. I can’t and expect it to be a world of limitless proportions.

I’m so frigging excited to CREATE Crawling Back now, and I haven’t been. I confess, I haven’t been. But this time of refusing direction has put me in the spot again where I’m begging to write a damn good book.

So for 2018, which I, like everyone on Earth, have longed for, my resolution is to be. Be present in whatever I’m doing, stop self-induced juggling. Take the long, steady road instead of building a mountain and trying to climb it at all costs, fighting to face a demon of my own creation on the other side.

My new year isn’t about changing. It’s about being, and being better at being.

And I want that for all of you, too. I want that to be the shadow I cast this year. Be the beast you can at being. Be good–not just okay–with not pushing. Be happy at succeeding, in all its stages–not just at being a success. Treat yourself like an adventurer, not a slave.

God, that’s really good, isn’t it. I write stuff, obviously.

OH, if you like that little motivational reminder, I put one like it on a coffee mug. A quote from my dark fantasy, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS. 

wear_a_crown_and_pearls_not_chains_and_fear_mug-r872c56d13d304e7082fef982f12db672_kfpv9_650

wear a crown and pearls, not chains and fear

Let this be your reminder in 2018 to be exactly who and what you want to be, even if–especially if–you’re that person already.

(if you’re so inclined, and do be, because reading is how you get better at every damn thing, here’s a link for THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS: The Wind Between Worlds by Julie Hutchings https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076PXGHQT/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_5qPsAbBW81N59  )

2018 is a year where we fight back. A year where being who we are matters. A year where change is made by staying constant. A year where we become who we are, and stand behind it.

Be brave.

Be constant.

Be who you are.