I’m running a tad bit behind this morning, but what the heck. It’s Friday, after all, and the sun is shining in truly glorious ‘queen of the heavens’ fashion, and I’m my own boss-lady; so hey, what’s a few extra minutes? See, this is one of the perks of having a home studio.
Having been a public schools teacher for sixteen years and then an “in the office – in the field” park manager for another decade, I think I have a thorough understanding of the schedule many working parents keep. I know about early (and late) staff meetings, punching in by a certain clock time, being unreachable all day long, sprinting to do my banking between work’s end and the bank’s close, squeezing the household and garden chores into evenings and weekends, that panicky feeling one gets in their gut when the alarm clock doesn’t go off, showing up even when ill, giving my kids every spare moment and giving my friends the meager leftovers. Of course, I also remember the regular paycheck, the decent benefits, the community of co-workers, the measured successes that could be seen and appreciated, the uninterrupted flow of the days, the clear boundaries between work and home, the clear boundaries between “on” time and “off” time, and the rhythm of the calendar that gave me a sense of balance and calm.
I remember both sides of that particular and very special coin.
Now, I have a different coin in my pocket. It’s a little foreign to me, so I’m still learning it’s value. On the one hand, I can work any time of the day or night. If it’s a beautiful morning like this, I can opt to take a walk right now – and work on my client’s website after sundown. But of course, if I choose to work in the evenings, then my children get a little less of me when they need my time and attention. So when interesting weather beckons, I choose carefully.
Scheduling my days requires a precise, mildly uncomfortable-at-times discipline known as “keeping on track,” wherein there are constant neon sign-like distractions winking and flashing at me. Friends and family know exactly where to find me and in loving, uninhibited fashion sometimes drop by to say “howdy.” Those who do it too often or stay too long have suffered my impatience, as I truly don’t like being interrupted when I’m “in the zone.” Neither do I always answer the home phone, even though it’s ringing only a few feet away from my desk. After all – if I were “at work,” I couldn’t answer it there, so why should I do so here – “at work?”
But the wonderful flip side is that there are many occasions when someone will call first (what a concept!), and I’ll be able to take a coffee break with them down the street at the Roasting Company, or we’ll go for a quick power walk, or I’ll sit on the stoop with them for fifteen minutes and hear the latest news. It can be lovely and rejuvenating, and often helps stimulate fresh ideas for my next wave of industriousness.
The importance of keeping the place tidy is greater now, for client visits, so I’ve learned to juggle some of my chores at the same time I’m operating in my office. Starting the washer or dryer is a walk down the hall, taking out the recycle is three minutes of fresh air, and sweeping the kitchen gets tacked onto lunchtime (which I also get to share with my fourteen year old most days, when she walks home from school for a quick bite).
The home-based cubicle offers multitasking at it’s best, which says a lot – since I personally think multitasking with anything other than domestic chores is a bad idea, but that’s a topic for another day!
I absolutely miss my professional community and the sense of being a part of a greater good that one can sometimes attain in a cooperative environment. I definitely miss the regular salary and benefits, but have learned a lot about faith, hard work and creating abundance. I sometimes miss the respect and understanding that others have for more easily defined careers, but I have huge gratitude for those who take the time to acknowledge and encourage me to continue pursuing work that I love.
So this morning after dropping off my youngest at school, as I drove through town, I saw an elderly man in a bright tropical shirt standing in the very very brisk 30 degree morning sunlight with his thumb out for a ride. I pulled over. My hitchhiker climbed into the warm car, smiled broadly at me and introduced himself. “Walter” had just missed the bus and was on his was to an AA meeting on the opposite end of town. I asked him if there weren’t closer meetings to his home, and he replied that there are, but he just loved the community of friends he has at the further location. I drove him all the way to the meeting while we talked about Ashland, her people, about how times change and how grateful we both felt to be where we are on such a fine day. He was kind and hopeful and reflective. The drive was simple to make. As I dropped him off and shook his hand, I said a little prayer of thanks for many many things.
This too, is one of the perks being the CEO of Martha Phelps Studio: on my way to work, I can choose to make a slight detour, and it can make a little difference.
May you all have a wonderful weekend, and may your schedules afford you an opportunity for a detour or two. ~ mlp