My Battle with Balance

Fotolia Balance

 

When I was going through the immigration process in Canada, we’d stare for hours at each other via Skype cam.   We’d talk about how, when I finally got there, I would be in the kitchen cooking with him, going fishing and driving to the park with the kids and the dogs for long walks by the lake.  In the last eight months a lot of that has happened, but not as often as it should have.

Instead I was focused on paying off things.  Working fervently to pay off our wedding (while we had a modest breakfast wedding it was still pricey).  And then of course we had to get me a car because in North Texas, there are no subways or cabs really (not the way that you would find in Toronto).  And then there were some vet bills, and car bills, a new(er) truck for Kevin and then, just when we thought we were seeing the mythical “light at the end of the (financial) tunnel” Logan developed a health crisis that required two surgeries with only partial health coverage.

I think it was evaluating my health coverage that scared me the most.  Someone with my health conditions gets nailed (even under Obamacare) and I was looking at about $800-$1200 out of pocket to cover myself and Kevin each month.  Considering other needs, that’s a pretty big bill and while I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of continuing to work from home, I (being something of a chicken shit when it comes to not having benefits; understandably?) went diving into trying on a full time employer in addition to consulting part-time through my business.   More is more, right?

What happened next was cumulative and slow changes that impacted my marriage, my relationship with my step-sons, my stress level and my balance.

Any job in marketing has the potential to become consuming.   It is easy to pour yourself into the industry with ideas and hard work, thinking you will make progress.  What I have learned is that in some roles, the harder you work the more work you are given.   And then you work harder; you quickly become one of those people who said they wouldn’t work late nights (but you do) and someone who said they wouldn’t work weekends (but you do). Part of that is employer expectation, but the biggest part of that you own yourself, for not drawing that line in the sand that says “this is my family and recharge time…  hands off.”    Or being afraid to perhaps?  *shrug*

I knew in my heart the schedule and the expectations were in direct opposition to the life I wanted to create.  It was never my intention to commute again (like ever… after that deadly Toronto commute that wrecked havoc on my health).  Here I was commuting again up to 3 hours a day. I promised myself I wouldn’t work late nights, now that I had a wonderful husband who was waiting to spend time with me.  There I was, working late at the office or for events, and even when I was home I was being slammed with text messages and emails in my off hours, then in front of the computer trying to burn the candle at both ends, being a rock-star marketer by day and rock-star consultant by night.

Performance wise, I give myself an A+ in the job stuff.

The problem is, I also gave myself a D- in Wife and Stepmother. Not cool.

 

And in my heart I wasn’t cool with that.  But rather than give up the money and some of the big budget fun I was having with some big names (I get blindsided by flashy things sometimes) I tucked that dissatisfaction in.  Became resentful and tired at home.  Now Kevin was not only missing me, but the bits of me that he was getting were not my best.  They were the “tired and bitter” moods, or the “leave me alone I am working” moods, and when I felt guilty about it I would throw money at it, being spendy with the house or the kids to compensate.

The problem is (and its no problem its a blessing) that Kevin is not a material person.  He values companionship, family time, couple time, kid time… and fishing for really big Bass on a placid lake with his wife, listening to Pandora and drinking Dr. Pepper.  My husband is a Zen like buddha of sorts.  He’d rather have less and be happy, than have more and be miserable.

The girl he married valued that too above all things.  Who the girl was being was not true to herself or her personal needs.

You have these moments where life just smacks you in the face with a reality that perhaps you are unwilling to see.  Or maybe you see it (as I did) but tried to ignore it, thinking you were cultivating some “greater good”.

 

Lucas: “What are you doing Lori?”

Me: “Oh baby I am working, but I’ll play Battleship or Jenga with you soon.. I just have to fin…”

Lucas: “You aren’t supposed to work on the weekends.  That’s your vacation time.”

Me: “Sometimes people have to work weekends honey.”

Lucas: “But can’t you work when we aren’t here?”

 

[Insert stabbing pain in my heart]

 

Lucas: “Can we go to the dollar store?”

Me: “Sure baby, what do you need?”

Lucas: “I need a calendar.  I mean… I need two calendars.”

Me: “For school stuff?”

Lucas: “No. I want to circle the days when we get to come see you and Daddy.”

Me: “Oh that’s a good idea!  What do you need the other calendar for then, your brother?”

Lucas: “No, its for you so that you remember when you are supposed to stop working.”

 

[Insert stabbing pain in my heart]

And then I put it down and turned my chair around, peeled off a kitten from my yoga pants and went and played Jenga.   After I stopped in the kitchen to wipe my eyes and blow my nose.   Life doesn’t get more clear than that in its messaging, does it?

I had been head hunted by a local businessman and met with him.   You know that feeling when you talk to a prospective employer and you just get that “CLICK” feeling? Like you are supposed to work together and that you would make a fabulous team?  It had been awhile since I felt that.   My dream boss has (since 2010) resided in Binghamton, New York.  Her and I would make a killer team, were it not for geography.

I was confused. I felt like I was “cheating” on my current employer but I didn’t feel that “click”.   I was doing good work but nothing was in balance including my evenings or weekends.  If you know anything about the Taurus you know that we prioritize home and balance (and chocolate cake).

I said “no” twice.  He was persistent after having interviewed many people for a lesser role.  When he met me, he changed the role, the salary and added some accommodations that work so well for my life.  The six minute commute means that I will be able to go home for lunch, let my own dogs out (they hate holding it) and have something healthy from my own fridge before heading back to work.  The six minute commute means that I will be able to get a gym membership and workout from 7-8 a.m. a few days a week.

The ability to work from home at my option is AMAZING.  That means no more missed Thursday night dinners with my kids.  Neither one of my step parents took a vested interest in me, and I remember how shitty that felt.  Like I was there because I had to be, but if I wasn’t there, they wouldn’t care.  They had my parent and that was all they really wanted, and I was excess baggage they had to contend with and squeeze in for appearances.

I want to be their #2 Mom and present in their lives.

I have waited my whole life to be that Mom.  

I’ll be damned if I suck shit at it.

 

The email came while I was in Vegas and I asked them to put the offer in writing, which they did.  The owner is amazing and “sweetened” he offer with so many lifestyle flexibility items, salary and benefits that I could not refuse.

I have this positive, amazing sense of happiness that has washed over me this past week.  Another way my psyche is nodding in approval.  It’s never good to ignore that inner voice for any reason, especially for money.   Some people are better at lying to themselves or ignoring their own dissatisfaction, I am not and I hate my personality when I am in a situation I strongly dislike.  I’m one of those bitches that had to fight her way to happy, and I’ll be damned if I settle for anything less than that either at work, at home or in my social life.

I am getting better at making the decisions that my put happiness first without excuses or explanations.  That might shock people but I think it’s a kinda cool way to live :)  Grateful for my blessings, confident in my abilities and the demand for them, and insistent on creating a life I love and one that I am proud of.

I only play a push-over on t.v…. life can throw things at me that might make me unhappy, but I’m not stupid enough to make myself unhappy on purpose (again anyhow).  I really learned that the only thing that stands between you and a life you love, is yourself and the choices you make.  Be honest.  Put yourself first and you’ll be amazed how it paves the road to happy.  It is that easy. xx