Too scary to publish in public right now!
For Me, Work Comes First
I’m going to write something that, even for me, hits the no filter personal barrier pretty damn hard.
To be quite honest, I don’t know if I’ll even be brave enough to publish this broadly. I may just put it in my groups. Partly because I think it might upset my husband to read it, even though he knows it.
BUT THIS HAS TO BE SAID.
So here we go, straight up and quick, eyes closed, before I overthink it!
My #1 priority – and love – is my work.
If I had to choose between my husband and my work, I’d choose my work. And I do … possibly too brutally at times, which is something I can think about; am thinking about, by writing this post.
If you asked me the same question about choosing between my kids and my work I wouldn’t know what to say. Would I choose something over my KIDS? Could I? Of course not! What a completely ABHORRENT idea.
And yet I do.
When I prioritise my work as the first and foremost and most important thing on which I spend my time.
As I write this I sigh a little inside because I know that I’m sure to receive a good handful of comments along the “you should never have been a Mum!” or “what an evil awful person, don’t you know how many people would give EVERYTHING to have children” sort of lines.
And to that I say, maybe. MAYBE, if you want to look at it in one way, I should never have been a Mum.
But I suppose looking at it in that way would mean that a) you don’t believe in the concept of putting your own oxygen mask on before helping others and b) you don’t believe that kids should see their parent following their dreams and that maybe that can actually SUPPORT great parenting not detract from it.
As to whether that latter is true, I don’t know. Part of me at times thinks I am damaging my children, with my selfish, insistent, refusal to back away from my work, with my selfish, awful, choice to not be a fully present, all the time, stay at home Mum who puts her own life on hold at least while they are young!
But this isn’t meant to really be a post about me analysing it all, whether I’m right or not.
This is meant to be a post about me sharing the truth. On a topic on which I do feel shame, guilt, worry but also ultimately on which I have MADE MY CHOICE and I have chosen to CHOOSE my choice. On a topic, also, I feel that others – maybe you – need to hear about.
But you are welcome to judge me, of course.
So here are the facts:
Work comes first. Work is my first love. Work is like air to me.
To clarify: Work, for me, primarily means my writing. Writing, speaking, creating, in that order, although creating generally means writing. Writing from the heart, whatever download I receive that day and need to then share with the world. Part of my work is of course the ‘busy’ work of running a business, but when I’m talking about what comes first I don’t mean that.
I mean my soul work.
But the truth is that even the busywork of running, building, further unleashing my business onto the world is pretty damn up their on my priority list. I can put it aside and spent time with my kids, and have a great time, but if too much desire – pressure – DRIVE – within me around my work builds up I’m no good to anyone.
And so back I go, to my first love.
To my work.
Often late at night, after they are sleeping. The kids are in bed, so I can work right? But what about my husband? Well … honestly … work comes first. Besides which I don’t like watching TV and ESPECIALLY not sports, so it makes it an easier choice to make.
But it’s a choice that already was made, soccor on TV in the background or not.
Before you condemn me, as bad wife, bad mother, all of the things I tell myself every day when I’m thinking from my head, when I’m allowing fear to rule me, allow me to present my case:
My work? My soul work primarily but honestly also the busy work? My work is what feeds me. It is the CORE of me, the essence, my very foundation as a woman and therefore also as every part of who I am in my life, including wife and mother.
I am equally tormented by and in love wth my work. THIS IS THE LIFE OF AN ARTIST. A creator. A natural born entrepreneur. Born to lead. Born with a message that has to come out. If you are not all of those things then nothing I can say will make full sense to you and you will only be able to judge me, even though you may try to understand; if you are compassionate or perhaps have leanings in the true artist / creator / leader direction.
I was not put on this earth to be a wife, or a mother.
Those are things that are PART of me, but they are not the core of me.
I was put on this earth to write, and speak, and lead.
If I don’t do that: I am like a shell of myself. I feel hollow … empty … useless … veer towards depression … sabotage … extreme anger … bitchiness … and so on.
I am not a good wife.
Or a good mother.
Or a good me.
I am, quite simply, not me when I’m not writing, speaking, creating, leading.
Of course it’s easy to see it that way. I tell myself all of the time!
Do you want to know what I really think?
Telling myself I’m justifying in saying all of that stuff, instead of just ACCEPTING that that’s who I am, is akin to telling yourself who you should or should not be allowed to love.
I didn’t choose to be this person, this creator, this very VERY driven leader who simply HAS to lead or is not whole.
It’s who I am.
Would you judge my skin colour? My eyes? My sexual preferences?
Well, maybe you would!
But it’s kind of pointless.
And that’s the thing here, why I’m really writing.
I do judge myself.
I do worry about it.
I do look at myself from the outside in and wonder what the fuck I’m doing, what am I doing to my relationship in my marriage and with my kids, what lessons am I passing on about love and about life?!
And I can’t change it.
It’s who I am.
AND I LOVE WHO I AM … even though she can be kind of a bitch or hard to deal with at times!
So no – I can’t change it, I guess you could say I choose not to change it and that’s true … I flat out don’t believe in sacrificing who you actually ARE, not for love, not for any reason.
But I can manage it.
I can stop. And think. About what matters to me BEYOND just this fire that burns in my soul. About how I want to be as a mother. About how I can be present. About how I can TAKE CARE OF MY NEEDS.
And so that’s what I do.
So with this, I present to you – how I manage the reality that my first love is my work.
1. I Take Care of My Own Needs First
Put your own mask on first, right? For me this manifests as: I set my alarm for early and get my ass out of bed so I can have a headstart on the day. I consider it a MUST to begin my day with time for me, and I have quite literally crafted my entire life in order to allow that must to be my reality. I know that if I read, journal, then write first thing in the morning my SOUL IS SATED. Okay so I definitely do want to do more work than that- am compelled to – but that’s my minimum. If I get that hour in first thing – and it can even be as short as 20 minutes or even 15 if necessary – the explosive bitch within me is calmed. I’ve done something for ME, and I can now BREATHE and BE there in the rest of the day.
2. I Put My Soul Work First, in My Business Time
I do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not do ANYTHING in terms of how I spend time in my online business, until I’ve done my writing for the day, and then any spoken or further creating. Often this means the busywork actually does NOT get done, as I don’t actually work that many hours despite everything I said above! I just prioritise those hours. So, the busywork gets left, or done at the very end of the day.
3. Time With My Kids
We do have ‘hang around’ relax time but to be honest I don’t really enjoy that. Of course if they are off playing or something and wanting alone time as sometimes kids do my default is might as well work more! What else am I going to do, refresh my fucking Facebook news feed 145 times so I can say I had a ‘downtime’ hour?
So most of what we do is planned activities. Park. Plado. Outdoor fun-time workout together (which is largely dancing and them jumping on my head!). Little made up races and games (thanks to my client Phillipa for inspiring me with this recently!). Arts and crafts. Special outing, i.e. go and buy some stickers, go have a coffee and a treat together. (Coffee for me! lol!).
4. To Ensure Time With Kids HAPPENS!
I have to have set times when I WILL finish, and then abide by it. With my work I mean. Honestly … if I did not have kids my day would be coffee – writing – writing – gym – great food – more coffee – writing – biz management – yoga – great food – coffee – writing – maybe massage – more work – great food – wine – more work. And I would love it!
So I have a schedule. Worked out with my husband of course, as he usually has the kids when I’m working. Sometimes we have a nanny, just for a few hours here and there. We live on the road at the moment, right now we are in Barcelona. We’ve been travling the world location free since end 2013. So we get part-time babysitting when we can and sometimes even go on a date together or something!!
My schedule adds up to about 20-25 hours of work per week. I am a workaholic who fights very hard not to live like one as I value cultivating and loving the other areas of my life. Another reason I have to put first things first in terms of how I spend my business time.
5. To Ensure Downtime for ME Happens
Like I said, relaxing is not something I’m good at and I flat out do not enjoy it. I would lie down and chill out or meditate in a park or something … or at Bikram yoga … or for sure do a beach day but of course be reading something powerful! But sitting around at home with the TV on? KILL ME NOW.
So in order to manage my energy and take care of myself I try and book in downtime stuff that is fun and enjoyable, or both. Massage, yoga, sometimes a cool outing or adventure. I am fine with switching off mentally from work when it’s for something interesting! But honestly so much of everyday life is sooooo boring … don’t you think?! Or it’s just me … so when my husband cracks it that I’m back on the computer at night or reading on my phone again honestly I get kind of pissed off! Why is it a bad thing I enjoy working, nobody (okay except me and maybe you!) judges most of the world sitting on its butt watching crappy TV for 3 hours a night but it’s not okay to want to fuel your mind?
6. My Relationship With My Husband
Honestly. This is hard. We are very different in what drives us. Our values are very different. Our natural desires are very different. We have to consciously think about respecting each other’s natural leanings and desires.
If I were to sit down and watch TV with him for an evening I feel that it’s pointless ‘for the sake of it’ time together, I feel annoyed that I’m wasting my time, I find it BORING. But I will watch a movie, or something special on Netflix. So we do PLANNED downtime together. Not every night. Mostly, he watches his shows and I sit at the laptop, that’s my fave way to spend an evening! But a few nights a week I promise to finish by a certain time, and we watch something.
Every few weeks we have a date night if we can.
Sundays are tech free family day (in theory!!).
And we generally have a few outings during the week as well. We actually spend way more time together than most couples, or families, since we live on the road and nobody goes to a job. So a lot of what I’m sharing above is in terms of how I FEEL not in terms of actually spending all of my TIME on my work.
7. Acceptance and Awareness
Ultimately what it comes down to accepting who you are. You want to be someone you’re not? Good luck being happy OR showing up in a great way for the other people in your life!
So accept who you are. But decide what YOU need – you first – in order to give it to yourself and in order to allow space for the other things that matter. For me this is like I said – get up early, ENSURE time for me happens. When my kids were younger and Enzo was going to work I got up at 4am if needed in order to have this time first. If something is of value to you, value it! To me there is no better feeling than having all of my work for the day done by 9am and feeling so damn free and energised for the rest of the day! BUT I would probably – defnitely!- still jump back on for more after a certain period of time with the kids!!
8. Be a Little Righteous About It
When you’re this driven, the default feeling is guilt. I’m a bad mother, a bad wife, I should want to play Barbies and do crafts all day, I should be able to put my work aside.
And then who would you be? Sit on your ass drinking cups of tea and eating biscuits and watching daytime TV?
Okay maybe that’s harsh, but do your kids (or partner) need to have you on tap 24/7? Or even 12 hours a day? Is it all QUALITY time anyway, is that possible? What are you teaching them about paving their way, following their dreams, listening within?
So be present, for those you love for sure. Be present and BE PRESENT when you are present but don’t just be THERE all the time waiting for somebody to need you. I think!
I guess what it comes down to is that ultimately you can’t be someone you’re not, and if you try to be you will be unhappy, unfulfilled, not live the life you were born for and I don’t know but I don’t think you’ll look back and say “thank God I gave my life for my kids / partner / to do what Society expects or what my guilt-tripping inner me expected at times”.
I just don’t know.
I definitely do think you could if not careful look back and realise you did NOT show up for your kids or partner, so that’s where for me I’ve had to actively decide what matters and put the above steps into practice to actually MATTER it, so to speak.
And I am happy about that.
But take all of that away –
Take everything away –
Strip me down to the soul –
And work comes first. My WRITING comes first. My MESSAGE comes first. It is, and always will be, my first love.
Which I guess is just a shockingly un-PC way of saying that I come first in my own life.
Would love to know what you think. Bearing in mind I’ve already told myself every possible ‘bad’ thing you might be able to say, suggest, or explain to me … but by all means go ahead again.
Life is Now. Press Play.