Friday, February 18, 2011

Getting though the difficult days...


I had a mini-breakdown... yes, I admit it. My head was filled with "what-ifs" and "what abouts" and sleeping was all I could do to stop the constant mind chatter.  Everything had to be done right now!!  I couldn't wait a couple weeks... what if I missed my chance to be a part of that blog hop, or be interviewed by so-and-so, or had to postpone my shop debut.  Those sneaky little thoughts weaseled their way into my cluttered, overworked brain and made a cozy little home, courtesy of my meltdown.
Well, as you can imagine, I reached my limit, and I need a break... so I rested.  I slept late, watched TV, attended to the pile of laundry and dirty dishes, and spent some quality time with my husband and dog.  I got my hair and nails done, and bought a new outfit at my favorite clothing boutique.  I spent the day in San Francisco with a friend, sipping cappucino, and eating sushi with the ocean as our view.  It was exactly what I needed.  I felt refreshed and ready to take on the world, but this time I'm going to be smart.  I devised a new plan for my life/business/everything else in between, and contemplated what I learned.
What I learned from my breakdown...
I can't do it all, and I definitely can't do it all at once.  After Kelly's class, I was passionate, motivated and armed with my to do list.  The problem was that I expected to finish that list in a couple months... I don't know why I always do this to myself.  Much to my dismay, I wasn't finished in a month, or even 6 months.  I was so exhausted from pushing myself to finish, that I ran into a roadblock, called Reality.  It may take me a couple years to finish my list (and I'm sure along the way, I will add to the list), but rushing to finish, while desperately trying to hold on to my sanity, is not how it should get done. 
We take vacations from our "day job", so why do we feel the need to use every available moment doing, yet, another job.  Even if it's something we love, don't we deserve some time away from everything, to do... nothing?  For the last 6 months, I've been working every day.  Not 8 hours every day, but definitely working every day.  I work 3pm-11pm at my day job, so I figured why not get a couple hours of PHL stuff done before work... not a bad idea on some days, but I was doing it every day.  That means most days during the week, I was working 10 hour days, plus a few hours on each of my days off.  No wonder I was tired!!  Here's what I'm planning on doing now...
1. Sundays and Mondays are my days off with my husband.  No excuses!! I'm newly married, and I want to enjoy my time with my husband, before the babies start coming... and that's just around the corner, I hope.  I will allow myself to do a couple hours of work after he falls asleep, but that's it... I'm up until 2am, anyway, why waste quality quiet time. 
2. I will set realistic goals for myself, and I will not allow my cup to runneth over.  I'm writing my to do list on a 3x5 index card... whatever fits, gets done, and that's it!! No more using a full sheet of printer paper to jot down what I want to get done, because guess what?  It does not get done, and I'm left feeling disappointed.   
3. I will take advantage of productive days, because tomorrow I may need a break.  After my few days of R&R I was ready to go!! That day, I made 3 blankets, 2 fitted sheets and then spent another three hours ironing and cutting fabric to be sewn on my next days off.  I turned into a workhorse because I was well rested... duh, Jess!
4. I will get my priorities in order.  My main focus right now is opening my PeachHoneyPreemie shop, and finishing a custom art piece for a friend's son.  Everything else has to take a back seat, just for the moment. 
What to remember, so I can prevent an encore performance of The Nutty Professor...
1. I'm not perfect, nor should I try to be.  I don't know why I expected to handle everything with grace and calmness, while forcing myself to "do it all."  Something had to give.  Well, my calmness gave way to hysteria.  I will not place unrealistic expectations on myself anymore.
2. I shouldn't compare myself/my success to anyone else's.  I'm not Ali Edwards, Kelly Rae, Donna Downey, Suzi Blu, or any of the other success stories in the artsy world.  I believe I will be there one day, but there's always that nagging voice telling me "Man, I wish I was that successful."  It's extremely self-destructive, and I don't deserve it.
3. I need to celebrate my "have's", so I can get my "have not's".  Even though I'm not widely successful right now, if I look at where I was a couple years ago, I have made some great progress.  So, I have decided to celebrate those, instead of wallowing in my own self pity.  It's counterproductive, and makes me feel like crap, frankly.  No bueno for business.  I need to love myself and my work, so my success will follow.
Above all else, I need to listen to my body, when it's screaming at me to take a break. Take care of yourself, the rest is fluff...

5 comments:

Wendy Brightbill said...

jess, i think i did the same thing my first year. i placed way too many unrealistic expectations on myself and pushed myself way too hard. one thing i have noticed is that there is an ebb and flow to a creative business. i have to go with the flow when i am inspired to work, but then make time for myself when i start to get overwhelmed. i think the boundaries you are putting on your business are awesome. good job!

Brandi said...

I burned out in a spectacular fashion at the end of 2009. It was really bad, and it lasted for months. I kept telling myself that I needed to this or that and it needed to get done NOW; that only got me to burning out faster. In 2010 I gave myself a break, and I'm doing even better in 2011 (I took a real day off yesterday - it's almost unheard of!). Good for you for realizing your needs so quickly!!

Joyce said...

Thank you for posting this - I TOTALLY identify with how you're feeling! I'm currently taking a break from trying to sell "myself" to focus just on the creativity. Balance is the key! Good luck!! :-)

Laura Catherine Otero said...

I actually pulled several all-nighters during Flying Lessons, trying desperately to keep up and get it all done at that moment. I was excited and buzzing with dreams/ideas, and burned the candle at both ends. Looking back, I wore myself out and pushed myself too hard! It's strange how we can sometimes create deadlines for ourselves that are not nearly as gentle as they would be if we were helping a friend with her marketing / biz plans. Welcome back! I'm also trying to slow down and "enjoy the ride" as Elizabeth GLZ says. Total work in progress here. :) xoxo

Jess said...

Wendy... unrealistic expectations are my motto, unfortunately. I need to remind myself to go with the flow, instead of forcing myself to finish.

Brandi... I'm all about instant gratification, but we have to remind ourselves that good things take time. Glad to hear you are taking time for yourself.

Joyce... I definitely feel like creativity gets lost if business is your first priority. This is supposed to be fun, and hopefully we can all find that balance.

Laura... We are all a work in progress, but at least we can acknowledge we are not perfect, and sometimes just need a break.

Thanks for stopping by, lovely ladies!!!

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