Friday, March 28

Desperately Seeking Balance


A few people have posted lately about life, balance, and finding their creative energy. Mary and Kathy have been searching and, from my understanding, have finally found a peace with themselves and the direction their life/craft/art is taking. I am currently a stay at home who has put most personal endeavors (school, art, career) on the back burner to raise my children and take care of my family and home. This shift is a very hard struggle for me. I am trying to find creative outlets in my kitchen, but I truly feel as if I am in a form of hibernation or cryostasis.



Waiting.



Waiting for what?



I was in a local quilt shop the other day and I was having a pleasant adult conversation with the owner. (Adult conversations don't come by that often so when they do I jump on the opportunity to use some three syllable words) I mentioned that it would fabulous (and my dream) to open a scrapbooking/craft shop in the same plaza. (it is a new plaza, with some empty store fronts) She said that a local woman was considering opening a yarn shop and that it could be a great 'one stop shop' area for crafters and artisans. In return, I replied that I needed to wait a few years yet, until my children were at least school age before I could start a retail business venture. Then she gave me some advise.. the only words of wisdom she had were 'Don't Wait.' Starting her business at 49, she said that the days were long and the work was hard and she could really use youth on her side.



How long is too long? What am I giving up? Or am I not 'giving up', but receiving instead? Do I need to be at home, and focus solely on the 'mother/wife/caregiver me', for me to appreciate the 'business, artist, creative me' later in life? Is experience, appreciation, and peace something that comes in time, or does it come when you reach out and grab for it? I suppose there is no right or wrong answer here. It would be nice to look back when I am 50 or 60 and not have regrets. Not wonder about all the 'what ifs'. Now is the time in my life that I need to make the choices that will steer my future, to avoid the malaise of 'the things never done', or the 'it would have been nice to ____'s.

Ok. I am done. I am confused. So here I sit, typing on my PC, a choice, instead of researching a business venture, or working on an art piece. Perhaps is is time to rethink my direction right now...


19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have always waited for the right time...right time for what ? Wait until the kids are older, I have more time, etc. etc. etc.
Well, I say go for it!! If you really want to do something- the rest will fall into place. I always thought you have to give 100 % to our families, but sometimes when the urge to do more hits us, It's ok to to divide our time. There is nothing wrong in doing more, only the regrets of going nothing.
Have a great weekend, I hope to visit your store someday :)
Janie

JeannieTheDreamer said...

Hello there Abbie.... it seems this melancholy is also in Pittsburgh. LOL. Could it be spring fever? Maybe not, because it comes and goes. There are so many things I want to happen in my life. I have not arrived at that point where I can say 'this is it, or nothing.' I've tried so many new things and then... pffft... I guess what I want to say is that you are not alone. When we are still, then we hear our hearts, our yearnings, and our joys. I guess when we reach that point, we can trust that every step we take at home as we cook our meals, and change diapers, every minute we spend on blogworld together, will get us to what we are looking for, eventually. It's something I look forward to...

Jeannie

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Love that you have a dream and I think that you'll achieve it, too. Wish that I could've spent time at home when my children were small so I envy you for that. On the other hand, if you would be happier pursuing this dream, you'll find a way to make it work.

And, after that comment about not wanting to look back with regret when you're 50 or 60, I feel so ooooooold. LOL!

Oh, I was going to say that the gal who owns the local quilt fabric store in my corner has her children at the store a lot. They even have a special playroom. Course the whole store is in an old farm so that's different from having a store front in a mall.

Rosa said...

While it's probably true that most people have a little less energy as they get older, the upside is that,since you are no longer worrying about small children, you are able to devote some undivived attention to your venture. Then there is the guilt factor. You won't have any ( depending on how old your children are!). There is always a trade off. We just have to decide which one will be most acceptable to us.

~~kattz*cottage~~ said...

Hi Abbie!
What a rewarding business venture that would be ~~ I would definitely be your customer if I lived in the north! I'm sure if it's the right time you will know that "this is it" & don't hold back ~ go for it!

Thanks for visiting my blog & have a great weekend!
Kathy

Rosie's Whimsy said...

One thing to consider is that since it would be your business, you could carve out an area for your children to be with you some of the time. I did that when my children were little at my business. It taught them manners, and awareness of the business world. It also gave them an appreciation of their mother as someone other than their mother as a caretaker.

Good Luck with thinking this through!

Susan said...

I can relate so well to your search for balance and wondering if you are doing what you should be doing. I have trained for two careers but, because of kids, moves, and other things, I'm not doing either of them. I work from home but wonder if I should get a "real" job and feel guilty that I've let people who believed in me down. If I had that "real" job, I would be wondering if I should be working from home.

There's never a perfect time for anything. Maybe taking steps to research the possibility of puruing this dream now could help clarify things? You might find yourself so passionate about it that now is the right time. Or maybe you'll find that you want to wait. Either way you'll have made progress.

Rooting for you no matter which path you take!

Suzanne said...

Oh Abbie!!! I hear you with my heart. I'm 60 years old, looking back as you have mentioned and I was just where you are at one point. I did stay at home with my young children until they were in school. We both felt that this was important and we committed ourselves to that. It was not easy...not at all! My husband traveled alot and as you said, adult conversations were very rare. I was forever known as "Evan's mom or Sarah's mom" and felt my identity slipping away. I knew I was in trouble when I leaned over to cut my friends chicken when we were out to lunch one day!

You need to find some time for yourself to be creative. Your Etsy shop is a good outlet.

But here I'm going to give a word of caution. Opening a shop is not all it's cracked up to be. It sounds wonderful and exciting, and that's exactly how I felt when my sister-in-law and I were presented with that opportunity when my children were finally well established in school. The truth is that owning a shop requires an incredible investment in time and effort, much more than you can ever imagine. Your life is tied to the shop hours, you always have to be there unless your business is so successful that you can hire employees.

You're not going to miss out I promise you. There's a whole lifetime of experiences and opportunities that will open up when your children are older.

I'm certainly not the person who would ever say "don't follow a dream" but I'm the one to say be realistic about what your dream will cost you at this point in time. How about negotiating with a shop owner to rent a corner of their space and start there. You could agree to work one or two days and also pay rent. That way you could ease into the experience without going Full Monty. I did this for awhile also and it was great.

Sit with your thoughts for awhile. Let everything simmer.

Love you Abbie. You are one of those great young women that I admire.

Dena ~ swaddlecottage said...

Hi Abbie,

I'm hearing you. I am 42 and now that my kids are older (18 and 12) I've finally found time to go back to school. I've also changed careers and I'm finding myself running full speed down the crossroad. It is exciting and scary at the same time. The reality for me looking back...you're at the very best place in life right now. I was there and often felt unfufilled because I just don't sit still well. I thought life was passing me by in lots of ways even though I cherished my time with my kids and wouldn't have changed it for anything. My advise, life will bring you choices, choose the ones that your heart tells you to and enjoy the moments. Live within them. Don't look back, what's done is behind you and can't be changed. Don't look ahead too far and linger in the "waiting" thoughts. Too much time spent waiting can cause you to feel jaded. Create art, laugh and feel life around you. In hindsight the only regret I have is not enjoying what was all around me ;)

Hugs,
Dena

Paula B. - GemStateMom said...

I've appreciated reading everyone's comments here. Dena, what you wrote spoke to my heart, thank you for sharing.

Abbie, you will find your way. I think every woman who becomes a SAHM will wrestle with this question...repeatedly sometimes! And I know I'm the most vulnerable to doubts at this time of the year. Cabin fever sets in as I spin my wheels waiting for Spring to burst upon the scene, and soul-searching takes over. But I also know, if the pattern repeats itself, that in another month my perspective will freshen and bloom, like the trees and flowers around me experiencing the same renewal of life.

the suggestion to arrange for a 'corner' in an established shop was very good. Also, having a nice 'space' for your children to be after school until closing time would give you an opportunity to impart many valuable lessons and give them a sense of 'ownership' and teamwork with you in the venture. It might be more challenging if you have tiny ones at the store with you, as they really can be a full-time job!

GemStateMom said...

http://stacysbigpicture.typepad.com/altogether_too_happy/2008/03/i-said-this-tod.html#more

as I was blog surfing (instead of rebuilding two months of lost transactions in Quicken, oh joy), I discovered Stacy Julian also blogged about balance. March must be one of those kinds of months for lots of people!

Miss Sandy said...

Abbie,
I wish I could give you some real words of wisdom here about devoting your time to your children or your dream. Some people do both but remember there will always be a trade off. I too made a choice to stay home, live on just my husbands income, and raise my children. I too put some dreams aside and poured my creative energy into creating a beautiful life with my family. Did I struggle with the decision at times? Yes. Did I sometimes feel that I was losing myself? Yes. Did I regret the decision? NO! There are many opportunities in the home to use your artistic abilities in home decor, art projects with your kids, etc. and you can find fulfillment in that if you have the right attitude. I also used my creative outlets to run a home based cake decorating business that allowed me the time with my children. I also used my art skills to create products that I sold at shows on weekends. My mother got to spend quality time with my children, I got a break, and my husband and I traveled to the shows, spent the weekend together selling my creations,and supplementing our income. These are just a couple of things that worked for me and I felt connected with myself while not sacrificing my time with my children. You will have to find what works best for you. My suggestion is to pray for guidance, seek your husbands advice, and then follow your heart!

Anke said...

Hi Abbie, I think as a mom who stays at home with their kids it will be for most women a struggle of decision, what is best, what do I want.......for me I know exactly what you mean/feel. I have this struggle since Lars is born. But through my art I think I found my way and the puzzle pieces are coming one by one together. Sometimes things are going to slow or at least I think it's going to slow, but strangely things come together just as the should when I'm patient enough. Hope you find your way to follow your dream as well. Smiles, Anke ;)

Sherry ~ Cherie ~ ms. herbes de provence said...

I have learned through life that the only "right time" is when you know in your heart and soul that it is THE time. And then you act. It's like catching a train. It's in the station - if you are ready to go you get on. If you aren't you wait for the next train.

Trust yourself Abbie. Trust your instincts. They will never, ever fail you.

amanda said...

Hi Abbie,

I wish I had the right words to tell you. This is a hard crossroads to be faced with. I can say this - in my experience, it's very hard to run any business. It takes MUCH time, and attention. Will it be worth it in the end? This is up to you. If it fulfills your dreams in any way, then I'm sure it will be. And your children will be better for it - watching you DO what you teach them... to follow their dreams, to BE and BECOME. But if you think for one moment that it will take away from your other dream, then walk away. It's not waiting if one dream competes with another. You are a creative person, and I'm sure you will find another alternative.

I don't envy your dilema... I'm at a crossroads, as well. Whatever you do - take your time making this decision. You will be in my prayers!

Smiles,
Amanda:)

Caron said...

You have to follow your heart, girl. I'm one to believe - and I hope it shows in my actions - that life is short. We are meant to live now. If what we are doing isn't all that we need then we need to go after what is seemingly missing. You will find that only pleasing others will get old eventually and you will lose yourself doing so. You will gain confidence in yourself if you take a leap into the unknown. I have found that I just know when it's time to move on to something new - to integrate growth into my life. There's nothing worse than stagnation - it can even kill a marriage (believe me!). Hell, growth can kill a marriage, too (ditto on the believe me). Anyway, I think you know what I'm talking about. You'll know what is right for you. But most of all, believe in yourself - and do a lot of research. If you want it bad enough, it will happen.

Love,
Caron

Mary said...

Oh Abbie, I read this when you first posted it, but could not find one word of advice. It is a very personal decision, and fraught with emotion. And I have always been scared of change, so I'm not really one to say, "Go for it."

I do understand, though, how there are many realities inside of you that are not apparent to those who know you primariy as a mother. I always felt frustrated to be given the label SAHM, when I knew I was so much more than that.

But I guess the search for balance is more than just balancing motherhood with a career or business. It is also an attempt to find a voice for all the different realities within us. I am wife, mother, artist, intellectual, friend... Even if they are not all apparent, they are all still within us. We just need to find the time and space to let them step forward...

OK, I'll stop babbling now. I'm sure it has been monumentally unhelpful, but at least know that I sympathize. :)
xoxo,
Mary

Stacey said...

Is there a way to take baby steps to create a balance in your life? Maybe volunteer at a store that you love or start working a few hours a week? It is so important to remember to balance the demands of being everything to everyone while not losing yourself, your needs, and your passions in the process. A few years ago I struggled with a similar issue...do I quit my day job to follow my dreams of starting my own business or do I continue on the responsible path of stability? I had the fortunate opportunity to see Oprah speak and was even offered the opportunity to ask her a question. So I asked for her advice. For that it is worth, Oprah told me to keep my day job and start my dream life's work on the side. She told me to have my vision in focus, but to start small. And that is exactly what I did. I will work fulltime (and am a mother of a toddler and preschooler)but I have grown my business slowly and am living my passion each day with my blog.

Rhondi said...

Hi Abbie
I just read this and had to respond. When my kids were young I was always frustrated because I had many creative things I wanted to do. I did some painting, taught some painting classes and even owned a little gift shop for awhile. Now that my children are grown and gone I wish I had enjoyed them more and not worried about trying to fulfill some of my dreams. There is plenty of time for that now. Don't be in a rush. enjoy your children while you can. There will be plenty of time to pursue your dreams later.
Rhondi