Is it possible? I'm not sure I'll ever know. Just when I think I've figured out this working/parenting/living arrangement, something changes and throws the whole situation into chaos (or peace, depending on the circumstances).
Working independently has been such a fun, stressful, educational experience. I'm so thankful for the flexibility it allows me and the time I can take for my family. At the same time, it's incredibly unpredictable. I'm lucky to have three clients now - all interesting and important organizations in their own ways. I thought I had a well-planned summer that included a lot of balance.
Then I volunteered to organize a relatively large neighborhood bike ride (somewhat unwittingly). Then I learned that two organizations will need more of me in the next few months. Then I think about teaching in a few weeks and know that will be an all-consuming endeavor. Always a cliche, but so true: when it rains, it pours.
So, after a sleepless night - mostly filled with anxiety about getting everything done - I decided to give myself a break instead of running myself into the ground. I hate backing out of responsibilities, but in this case it came down to staying sane and doing a good job. It's easy to put my own needs on the back burner. This time, I decided that it doesn't benefit anyone when I do that - least of all my kids and my husband.
I'm still learning how to say "no" to things. It's hard for me. I like to help and to do a good job. I also like to be a good mom and a reliable worker. And I like to have time to run and bike. Clearly, balance needs to be involved in this situation.
Gaining perspective and inspiration from Simply Bike today, this is me at 35:
Learning to say "no" to preserve some semblance of balance.
Putting myself and my family first.
Realizing my limits and listening to my inner dialogue.
Feeling guilty about letting people down.
Understanding that my health - mental and physical - are important components in my life.
Relishing in lazy summer days with my kids - not burdened with unrealistic expectations.
Recognizing, perhaps for the first time in my life, that for me stress equals anxiety that can get out of control and create sleepless nights.
Valuing quiet time with my husband to nurture our relationship.
Maybe 36 will look different in a few months, but this is 35 and it's not so bad.