What is it about us, as women, that makes us think we have to do everything? Is it learned behavior, or is it in our genes? I, like many women, have many roles to fill. Who am I? I am a mother, a wife, a stepmother, a daughter, a sister, a co-worker, an employee, a paralegal, a writer . . . and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
The struggle to balance those roles is just that – a struggle. I would not get through the day if I didn’t have a game plan. I’m a bit of a control freak, I’ve been told (and you may notice a bit of that in my main characters – that’s a piece of me in them). I don’t deny it (though my philosophy with most things is deny! deny! deny!), I try to work with it. I start each day with a plan. Personally, I swear by my Franklin Planner. My life is in that book. My first boss out of college, Virginia Stewart, was a good influence on me. She trusted me, she taught me, she encouraged me. She let me take time off work to attend classes towards my masters degree, and other classes that were simply meant for self-improvement. One of the classes she sent me to was the Franklin time-management one-day seminar, and she bought me a binder, the first year’s filler, and a storage binder. That’s something that made a truly lasting impression on me – that she thought enough of me, a lowly young secretary, to invest in me like that. I should track her down and write her a thank you.
OK, so now you know my method of management. A couple of years ago I tried something different – divided each day into three sections – work, family and personal. I think it is important to realize that these three facets of your life work together, and mesh with each other, to form a total picture. One cannot exist without the other, at least in my life. My work is what keeps a roof over my head and food on the table. My family is, well, my family – the most important facet of my life. Separating them in my planner didn’t really work. There is too much overflow and overlap. So, I’m going back to the traditional planner with a daily task list. Maybe I’ll try something different for home, though.
My personal life has somehow been glossed over for the past several years or so (well, until 2005). My daughter is now 17. She’ll graduate this spring and will soon be off on the grand journey called College. She no longer requires my constant attention. I should be able to carve out enough time to have a personal life, to explore my own wants, desires and needs. To be honest, I am a better parent and a better wife when I allow myself that time. Yesterday, I was ready for Christmas to be over, to have time to myself. While my DH snoozed on the couch and watched Cowboys for Christmas, I played in my scraproom. It was WONDERFUL. I felt so refreshed afterwards.
So, you may ask, why do I suddenly feel this need to carve out personal time? To allow myself that luxury? A pivotal moment in my life occurred on February 28, 2003. My best friend died of cancer. She was 35 years old, with a loving husband and two wonderful children. We were best friends in high school, when we talked for hours on the telephone, cruised the loop together in her mom’s yellow Mustang, and double dated. We got dressed up for Prom together, and cried on each other’s shoulders when things didn’t work out with a boyfriend. We thought we had the rest of our lives to do . . . whatever. Anything. Everything. Then one day she had a routine mammogram, and the results weren’t good. She called me, and I helped her walk down the hallway of the hospital after her masectomy. She didn’t look good then, but the chemo and radiation seemed to work. A couple of years later, she attended a breast cancer survivor seminar/luncheon with me, and I thought she would make it. Less than six months later, she was dead.
You never know when your time will be up. You have to do it – whatever “it” is – now. For me, writing is important. It is my legacy for my daughter. One day, I want her to read my work and be proud that I am her mother.
Most important takeaway: Don’t put off the good stuff until tomorrow.