I feel like I lost something along the way, like it fell out of my pocket while I was walking down the street one day. It feels like I lost it at home, in the morning rush, while I was trying to get my child off to school so I could head to work. I feel like I lost it at the office, in between the screaming customers and cranky coworkers. I feel like I lost it while trying to balance the work I’ve brought home, with the work I already had set up for me there.
My creativity is missing, have you seen it? My fingers used to itch with ideas to put on paper, with stories streaming through my head. I used to have to STOP what I was doing, multiple times through out the day, just to write an idea down. I could sit down with my cup of coffee and write and write, whether it was with my journal and pen or computer.
Somewhere this past year, I lost it. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t occasionally sat down by the computer, grabbed my notebooks, and… tried. It just doesn’t come. If I sit there long enough, the only feelings, the only things that come is stress from the job, and the feeling of failing at home (the result of working long hours and bringing work home with me).
My fingers don’t itch, my journal is sparsely filled with meaningless entries, and my blog is stagnant. Don’t even get me started on my drawings or my knitting. Lately, it feels like there is nothing left in my brain but stress. There’s this underlying wave of anxiety lately, if I give myself a moment, it threatens to drown me. I get up in the morning, get my kiddo to school, work 9 hours (often without a lunch, which was a big journal writing time for me), get the kid from school and head home with another 2-4 hours of work. I manage to fix dinner, throw in some activities for the family on the weekend, and bam! The end of the day is there, I head to my room to conjure up something to put through my pen and just end up with the same anxiety. Unfortunately you can only write so much about one topic before you start pissing yourself off. (Yes, that was a full admission that *all* writing I do is for myself.)
Things seem to be slowly calming down at work, I’m slowly (read: the difference is in literal minutes) working less at home. I’m slowly starting to feel the real draw back to my ideas, but now it’s pushed by the irritation, the HATRED of how I’ve sold my mind short. I think of all that I could put through my pen, I think of all the time I could spend with my daughter (my true muse) instead of hovering over my paperwork, and then stressing over everything else. I think of how much I just want to STOP.
I think of how much I just want to walk away. How much I want to just say “screw your fucking (insert inane purchase at any retail/CS job I’ve worked), I’m done.” and go home and write. How much I want to listen to my daughter’s make believe stories and spin whole tales about each character… for the pure point of telling a great bedtime story. I think about the years I’ll spend working, and if they’ll be limited by my disease, I think about whether or not I’m spending what limited working years I have working in a stressful environment. If I’m sacrificing my “healthy years” (those of you who personally know me, just started laughing) slaving away behind work orders and phones instead of with my family and my art. I start wondering what’s worth it, and what’s not. I start wondering what I really want, and what just gets me by.
Then. THEN. I think about how much I enjoy my industry (even if I don’t enjoy my job anymore). I think about the great example I’m setting for my daughter about work ethic when I show up to work every day, even when other’s would call off. I think about my co-workers, who sometimes drive me up a wall, but whom I consider my friends. I think about the joy I find when doing my job correctly, and getting out and finishing at 5. I think about how much easier things are with my extra paycheck (yes, I’m *finally* not the breadwinner in my family), and how much quicker I can accomplish my material goals. I think about how much easier it is to get yelled at by a customer then it is to try and crank out material and get published.
I ran away this weekend, my daughter and I came up north, to a part of wisconsin I’d like to live eventually. My parents will eventually retire here, and this is one of the only places I feel like I’m able to let my mind wander. After work on friday, I packed the car and we drove up here in the dark. I needed a weekend away to clear my head, despite planning to come up here much more this year, I haven’t made it. So this weekend it is.
Last night, while laying in bed, I realized that something has to change. Now I’m not saying I am going to up and quit my job (despite the rallying cries to do so), but something… anything has to change. I need to learn how to say no, how to go home at a reasonable time and instead of working at my own desk, how to walk away from my to-do list and pay attention to myself and to my family. I need to learn to let my words and emotions flow through my fingers like they used to. I need to stop fearing that I’ll offend someone with my writing, that I’ll upset someone at the office or in my personal life. I need to stop censoring my thoughts and written word and maybe… just maybe my creativity will come back. I need to learn balance, how to do the job I (used to) love (and learn to love it again), and how to nurture my family and my own pleasures.
Last night, and today, I’ve realized what I want and it’s not the feeling I get out of the way things are now. I have to make a change, and I’m the only one who can do it. It’s my life and I’m the one leading it… I need to get my priorities in order and enjoy it.
Life is a lot shorter than we’ve been lead to believe.