Being in Hot Demand and Dealing with that Pressure

I now have paid creative and freelance work lined up through at least the end of August. So much so that my husband has stopped looking for a regular full-time job and is just riding out this temp job so he can be around to be primary caretaker for our son this summer (picking up extra money working weekends for my father), and will start looking for full-time work in July for wherever we decide we’re relocating to this fall, if we decide to make that happen. Kind of crazy, considering how tight things were for a while this winter.

So half of the work I have lined up is indeed in my previous field, which I’ve mentioned before I wanted to attempt to see if I want to get into again or not. This is the opportunity to try to decide if what I loved about it weighs more than what frustrated me about it, and if I can balance working in this field while still being the parent I want to be. I lucked out with the pay being higher than I anticipated (not the highest I’ve ever been paid but pretty close), and between those 3-4 projects and the work I’m doing for the local shop, we should be set.  In the meantime, I’m finishing up my last contracted job while easing into working for that local shop (and they can’t wait for my availability to open up more) and decided yesterday to work with the place giving me the job in my former field this summer in a lesser capacity on two other projects this spring to get a lay of the land and make some more contacts.

I think I mentioned before that somehow things line up for me when I can determine what it is I actually want. Synchronicity, maybe, or a touch of luck. The path to get to where I want isn’t easy, in any way, and it is never the path that I imagine it will be, but I get there nonetheless. And I realize that I am a cautious decision-maker, agonizing over the options that lay before me, but I think it’s because I recognize the power I have to shape my own life and my tendency to barrel ahead once a decision is made. So before I go at a dizzying pace, I make sure my choices are right for me.

But because of all of this work lined up and because I’m working long hours and letting certain things slide, the pressure has been building inside me. I have growing mommy-guilt at having to rely on more TV than I want over the next couple of months until my husband leaves the temp job. I have a daunting amount of work and projects looming over me, including prepping for the 2014 Buffalo Small Press Book Fair. We just had to deal with the stress of buying a new car, including discovering our title for our old car still lies in CA even though we moved in 2009 (thankfully, the dealership we’re going through accepted a check for the trade-in amount and is just holding it for us until CA comes through). I don’t know when I’m next going to have an actual day off. I need a freaking vacation, and I had hoped to get to Vermont (with a fast day trip to Massachusetts to dip my toes in the Atlantic Ocean) for a few days in April but that is such a slim possibility at this point.  Last week, after working more than 40 hours at the one contract job, I came home to stay up late to finish my first project for the shop, and all while I was doing the work, my brain was screaming “I can’t!” at me. And I had to laugh at myself, because obviously I was doing the work, so I could, but the mental protest was noted.

Everything I do to handle my stress starts to slide when I get busy. First, I stop journaling nightly and it falls to once every two weeks, if I’m lucky. Then meditating at night gets shifted to only a few minutes of deep breathing while I’m sitting or laying in bed. My morning routine goes out the window, and I begin to skip doing Morning Pages and working out (I’ve slipped to about four days a week on each when it’s been almost daily since December). As I’m the fittest I’ve been right now since high school (and healthier as I’m eating less processed and sugary foods than I did as a teen), and as I need to count on my body to not give out on me, I need to make sure I don’t drop down further than this. But the biggest thing I let go is playing my piano and flute. I’m managing to play my flute once a week, which is all that is keeping me from devolving to a weepy mess, but tonight will be the first time I’ve played piano in over a month.

My piano is not in my house, and so due to first having a sinus infection and then having our car die a slow death, I have been unable to make the 20 minute drive to get to it. And now, I am wound so tight it feels like I have a metal snake curling around my internal self. I’m giving off sparks from the tension I feel. For my family, it means that I have very limited patience and can snarl at a moments notice, with only a slight provocation. At work, the patience is still low, but I hide it by becoming super sarcastic and snarky. I start swearing like a sailor, and, funnily enough, yesterday found me doing so with a touch of Irish brogue, saying “fecking”, usually followed by one of the professions that I’m working with – “Fecking _______ (profession plural)”.  Maybe I’m just getting a jump start on St. Patrick’s Day? Anyway, tonight, after working a couple of hours with the new company, I will be going to play my piano. I will feel myself unwind, soothe my inner beast, and probably leave with a slightly scratchy voice because it’s been so long since I’ve played and sang at full voice.

Part of me hates admitting that I need this level of unwinding. It feels like a weakness to me. But it’s so necessary for my sanity and the well-being of all who are forced to put up with me, so now that we have our new car, I need to get back into making the trip out at least every two weeks, and hopefully weekly. I need to get my flute playing back to twice a week. And I can’t wait to move in the fall and be able to have my piano with me again so I can play multiple times a week. I miss it.

Making a Point – a poem

Making a Point

The points of my pencils
Are now sharp.
I sketch new light
Into an old place.
Shadows blended between objects
Refractions of my soul.

The points of my pencils
Are fading fast.
I sketch a new world
Onto a blank page.
Creations spring to life
Of their own free will.

The points of my pencils
Are flat and dull.
I place a new line
On top of old.
Heavy-handed and light-hearted
A peace is obtained.

The points of my pencils
Are now sharp…

Copyright 2010 Kat Micari

New Year’s Day Musings

Starting in 2010, I stopped drawing up a list of resolutions. Instead, I chose one major self-improvement/growth task for myself to work on, knowing that several small changes would come about simply by focusing on one big change. That first year, it was to learn to cherish myself, something I had neglected for a long time (possibly my entire life). The next year, my focus was on childbirth and being the mother I most wanted to be. The next, I focused on finding joy in the small moments and accepting life for what it is.  Last year, I focused on what I could give back to the world, in both small and big ways.

This year, I want to learn to move through life, not without fear, but despite fear, both professionally and personally.  See, although I project confidence, inside I can be cripplingly shy and unsure. My abhorrence of being annoying keeps me from joining in conversations at times, even when I know I can add something to it. But I’ve recently realized how much my fear has held me back in my life. Professionally, I sometimes expect my work to stand on it’s own, rather than engaging and sharing my own passion for the projects.  Personally, I know that I have missed or delayed the opportunity to form potentially lifelong friendships.  When I open up enough to actually converse with people, when I ask the right questions and engage them in conversation, I can learn their stories. And I find them frequently fascinating! So, rather than be afraid that I’m annoying someone, I have to trust that they might in fact find me a little fascinating too. I know that I won’t be able to entirely rid myself of my fear, but I will learn to move around it.

This, of necessity, means tapping into a more aggressive part of my personality than I’ve let out in many years, and that means that this year will also be one of finding balance between the strong/aggressive side and the soft/nurturing side of my personality.

For me, 2013 was a year of transition, of finally ridding myself of the fear of poverty, of finding myself again.  This coming year will be one of finding my balance and focus.

I wish you all luck on your journey through 2014, whichever roads you choose to travel.