Me and Mine
I’m a 40 year old married father with a number of interests and hobbies and a bad habit of starting little side projects whether I have time for them or not. When push comes to shove however, spending time with my family and making sure they are taken care of is my number one concern. This responsibility is at the core of many decisions I’ve made thru the years and will continue to be for some time. I call this taking care of Me and Mine. While these decisions are usually straight forward, they are not always the best news for me, personally.
For instance, I can sit here and tell you that drawing every day is the key to continually getting better, yet my current job isn’t a ‘draw every day’ kind of job, and I’ve made the choice to give over my evenings to story time and other family activities.
I can tell you that it takes time, energy and focus to start a new venture, but any working parent will tell you that those qualities are not always the easiest to come by, especially in your off hours, and especially when it feels like everything is falling apart.
I can tell you that writing in your blog, updating your online profiles, and participating in your online communities is a great way to keep yourself top of mind to potential clients or employers, but finding the time to do that means that you are giving up something else. Ultimately, you have to decide how important all of that is to you.
For me, I work on it when I can, but ultimately it takes a back seat to taking care of Me and Mine.
A Year of Recovery
After the violent loss of her mother last year, my wife was understandably distraught, and even then had to contend with her concern over the health and well being of her youngest sister. She continued to ‘run’ her business, but her mind wasn’t in it and her heart followed closely behind. She simply needed more time for herself. Time to think. Time to pray. Time to cry. Time to take care of things that needed taking care of. This meant she needed more of my time as I’ve been doing more around the house and spending more time with our daughter so that mom could have a few more hours not being ‘mom’, because, let’s face it, mom’s don’t think about non-mom stuff very well when they are being mom.
We were living in my mother-in-law’s house, but the bank still owned the lion’s share of the mortgage, and we didn’t want to buy it, so we began planning our exit strategy. This meant many hours of my time over the summer looking for a new home, then once one was found, still more time from all of us in packing and then moving. Also, since this was her mother’s house, there was more work to do after we’d moved out than normal. I think we’re basically done over there for now. We’re still in the process of unpacking and settling in, though much of it is complete. We just finished setting my wife’s office up last weekend. The bathroom is next, and the living room is after that, maybe in March. Painting, staining, etc. There go the weekends.
Our new home is also 20 minutes farther from my work, so I’m losing an additional 40 minutes a day in commute time. On the one hand, that’s kind of laughable, since I was only 10-15 minutes away to begin with, and my 35 minute commute will seem miniscule to many road warriors. On the other hand, 40 additional lost minutes a day (and who wouldn’t hear the term ‘40 minutes’ and not think ‘an hour?) still adds up to more than 3 hours per week I’ve lost from my schedule. I try to make the best of that time, either in quiet contemplation when needed, or by listening to podcasts or Bible literature on my iPod, but still, its less time in my day for ‘doing’.
Water From a Stone…
Mostly I’m bringing this up, because those hours had to come from somewhere, and those of you who know me online might wonder where I’ve gone.
First I disappeared from my blog. Sure, I got a couple posts out, but let’s face it, you haven’t really heard from me in more than half a year other than a random post or two of some art I’ve done. Next I disappeared from our podcast. Bob did a stupendous job, but he carried the last several episodes without me. Finally, I pretty much disappeared from the social net as a whole. I’m not on Twitter, Facebook or even our Linked In group much these days. I keep thinking “I need to get to this”, but I haven’t really had time. In fact, I don’t even check my email every day anymore.
The only ‘personal’ activities I kept were running and reading. Everything else went out the window. I haven’t even found the time to go see Tron, and I’ve been looking forward to that for over a year. The bottom line is that as much as I enjoy these things, none of them stack up to Me and Mine.
Priorities vs. Goals
January is just coming to a close, and like you, I’ve heard a lot lately about New Year’s resolutions, setting goals and the like. I’ve also heard very little about considering priority. I’ve had lots of goals in my life. Some have gone away permanently. Some have been backburnered. Some have evolved along the way. Some still live at the forefront guiding daily decisions. However, no goal continues that doesn’t serve a priority, and for the past year, the only priorities I’ve had have been Me and Mine.
My family is my core, and I’m trying to stay healthy to take care of them. Me and Mine. These are my priorities. They are part of the foundation of my strength and what I strive to protect at every turn. The rest of this is all external. A home. A job. Business contacts. Recreation. Its outside of me. Its often fun. Much of it is useful. Some of it is even powerful. Its not core, though. They serve us, but they are not Me and Mine.
Things will likely turn around. In fact, its been said that the first year after a loss is the hardest as you work thru numerous annual events for the first time without you lost loved one. We’ve done them all at least once now, and I already see an easing in. This new home is cozier than the last one by far and carries far fewer memories and a potential for creating many new ones.
As time opens up, I will again decide where to put any extra time I may find. It may be back into this blog. It may be back into the podcast (there are several interviews I would still love to do). It may be back into something entirely new. I’ve recently discovered Mouse Guard, and after moving I’m rereading the many comic books I had stored away and remembering why I loved so many of them. Colleagues such as Chris Oatley and the crew from Art and Story keep me inspired on a regular basis. Something will happen soon, though I’m not sure yet what that will be.
What This Has to Do With You.
Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. Many, smarter people have gone thru this before me. Many more will go thru it after me. This is nothing special, remarkable or unique. But, I guess that’s the point. Whether its a lost loved one, or an illness, accident, or setback, everyone at some time has to regroup. When that happens, break it down to the basics; to your core. Never lose sight of that. Sometimes people get so invested in their projects, goals or aspirations that they lose sight of their core, and their decisions become divided as they try to save both. So, here’s a reminder: Its OK to shut down an entire project, even close the doors on your own company if that’s what its going to take to get you and yours thru it, whatever ‘it’ is. I’m not saying you HAVE to. Often you don’t, and obviously I can’t make that call for you, but when you see it yourself, you’ll know.
I’ll take care of Me and Mine, and know that I’ll understand when you take care of You and Yours.