Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Winter blahs, working, Nehemiah, Anne and the warm breeze of summer

It is winter.  I mean winter, winter.  We are beyond the beginning of winter when the snow arrives and cleans up all the dead and dreary scenery, we are past the joyful holidays, we are past that bitter cold spell where you determine your grit and push forward, BUT, we aren't heading into the home stretch where signs of spring mingle with cold and snow.  Nope, we are in that part of winter that is just winter, winter.  Cold, snow, ice and nothing but stretching before us.

It is beautiful.  After a fresh snowfall we do try to focus on that.  For a day or two.  And, yesterday as I was pushing my grocery cart through the snow and ice covered parking lot I even thought of something to be thankful for:  I was not pushing a crabby 2 year old in a grocery cart through a snow and ice covered parking lot.  It really is amazing how much more enjoyable an experience it becomes when you remember that detail.

So I am in the winter blahs.

But I am a Minnesotan, this is not my first winter, not my first winter blah.  After a couple days of being pathetic I finally realized there was nothing to do but keep moving so I got up and moved on with my life.  And stopped for a Caribou on my way.  Because nothing helps say, "suck it up buttercup" like a sugary cup of coffee.

So to explain my life right now I think it is necessary to review the last almost 3 years. (Can you believe it has been almost 3 years since I returned to work!)  Year one had me working 8-5 every. single. day. M-F.  I liked the job and the people but we realized that particular structure was just not us.  Plus there was no real opportunity for me to grow in that company and I wasn't making anything near enough to support us once John quit working, even with a downsize.  So then I went to a 30 hour a week from home job which seemed like it would be perfect except that it wasn't.  And after 9 months self preservation caused me to quit that job.  But by then I had realized what I needed to do was real estate.  I had loved and wanted to sell real estate for so many years I couldn't even tell you but never was ready to take on the task before.  But now with the time to work carved out of my life, a clear sense of my need for making money and my preparedness to actually do the work I went for it and started my own business.  I have been running John's business for years and telling him what to do to grow and succeed.  This is my chance to do those things for myself.  And so for the last almost year I have been learning, calling, meeting, talking, mailing, listening, asking, showing.  I have seriously loved every single second of it.  John worked all summer making money while I was busy working basically for free.  When I started everyone told me it takes at least a year to start making money in real estate.  And the longer I am in it the more I see the truth of that statement.  It takes time to tell everyone you know you are selling real estate and then not everyone you know is buying or selling the year you start, so you have to wait.  I have a hand full of people who "sometime in the next year or two" are going to move and use me but this does not pay my bills today.  Eventually it will come together but until then I did what I knew I would have to do when I started, get a part time job.  Which I did last month and I am really happy with the decision.

So here we are today.  I went from a job where I was out of the house nearly 10 hours a day with lunch and commute time but evenings and weekends were completely mine, to a job I was at home all the time and worked the hours around my schedule ton now where I am doing a combination of work that is dictated by others and work that I manage myself.  It is the right balance for making me feel in control and yet is such a full plate I sometimes feel out of control.  I am finding that the hardest part about establishing a business is that you are  never sure it is safe to stop working.  And yet at this early stage of starting I am not always sure what exactly the next thing to do is.  So I find myself sort of hovering all the time over the business.  Afraid to walk away but not always sure what to do while I am there.

I also am experiencing a new phenomenon in working that I had never had.  Working weekends.  My part time job has me doing a Saturday shift until 2pm. And then Sunday's I am often holding open houses after church.  Which then leads me to the reality that I no longer have a weekend.

Now I am not complaining but I have suddenly found myself working 7 days a week and it is a bit overwhelming!  OK maybe a little complaint but mostly I am thrilled to have so much to do and work I really am enjoying.  However, I have a husband and daughter and friends and a home to squeeze in there.  Plus I miss running, I want to be able to take a vacation day this summer and occasionally I just like to do my nails or something just for me. The problem is when I get overwhelmed I don't go off and do my nails or go for a run or something that refreshes me.  Instead I pass out on the couch, watch too many hours of tv and then get mad at myself for wasting so much time when I have so much to do.  And what I realized this past weekend is that unlike when I was at home and would have an overwhelmed, lay on the couch breakdown, there is no margin in my life for this breakdown.  I needed those hours I wasted watching tv to do the laundry, make meals ahead or...do my nails (they are so bad right now).

Then again...Things tend to work themselves out.  First of all, I am not doing everything on my own anymore.  While I was laying on the couch John made a meal and froze it.  I did a couple loads of laundry yesterday morning before leaving and John finished the rest when he came home.  We are sharing the work load.  When I first started working I knew it was necessary but it was also stressful to share the work load.  I had been in control of the home and was used to knowing exactly what was happening with every task.  I knew I needed to let John help but it took time to let go and trust him.  I am there now.  (mostly.)  Secondly, this new home takes seconds to clean.  I can shape up 1100 square feet in less than an hour.

So this week I am working on schedule organization, a plan for my working hours and my home hours.  Because while it turns out if I fall apart for an afternoon things do still get done, it still isn't ideal.  I would rather enjoy my relaxation time, schedule it in, instead of becoming overwhelmed and falling apart because I forgot to take care of myself.

I decided to read through Nehemiah during my quiet time.  That man  had a big project in front of him.  He took time off from his job to go to Jerusalem, rally the Israelites and get the wall and gates rebuilt.  He encountered lots of obstacles but kept moving forward, displayed leadership skills and got the job done.  It just seems like there might be something worth learning at this stage of my life.

I am also reading the book Anne of Green Gables to Isabelle right now.  This was a favorite when I was a kid.  As an adult I see it with new eyes and find it even more brilliant.  It is easy to see why it is so beloved.  The other day I read the part where Anne is in a little boat floating down the river when all the sudden she realizes it is starting to sink.  She is standing in the boat when she sees the pillars of the bridge she is coming toward and realizes it is her chance.  She didn't close her eyes because she didn't want to miss the opportunity but she prayed and told God if He would just bring the boat near the pillar she would do the work!  And I think about what I am doing career wise.  There is a lot to do and a lot to watch and I find myself also afraid to close my eyes for fear of missing he opportunity but often praying, "God, just bring me close and I will do the work!"  I think this is the same type of prayer that Nehemiah prayed. There are several times where he prayed and then spoke or did.  Quick in the moment prayers. I bet he didn't close his eyes either.  I bet it was a prayer that sounded a little like Anne's, "get me close and I will do the work."

So the update of my life is that I am working.  It is cold and there is a lot of snow.  

When John started school someone said to him, 10 years from now it will be 10 years from now. Great advice for our stage of life.  But also maybe for the next 4 months.  No matter our attitude or action time goes on, life moves forward.  So whether I am up or down, work hard or wallow in the winter blahs for the next 4 months, June will come, the grass will turn green, the trees will blossom, the pool will open, and summer will be upon us.  While we wait the question is, "How will I spend the time?"  What am I going to accomplish?  Am I still going to be sitting here feeling overwhelmed or am I going to say my prayer and do the work God brings my way, get my schedule organized and be ready with a plan that allows me to sit guilt free on my porch and enjoy the warm summer breeze?