I’d love to continue my series on thoughts of a working mom (is that the official name? that might be a work in progress, too) because I know that the support that I receive and read out there in the greater web world on what it means to be a ‘good’ mom and a ‘good’ (happy!) employee/employer/entrepreneur have been invaluable to me. Today – thoughts on a pie chart idea that makes us feel whole.
There are so many great articles out there about ‘balance’, ‘juggling’ and that overall idea of what it means to be a whole person. I’ve been thinking a lot on the topic lately because it’s not an easy one to digest. I think women in general especially struggle with feeding the whole person because we are givers by nature.
I think I’ve finally, after years of struggling with identifying what makes me thrive as a human being, recognized that I am happiest when I’m contributing to many different ‘buckets’ of priorities. If ever I dedicate too much of myself to one slice of the pie over another, I find myself a little edgy and unsatisfied with how my days are going or life in general (you know that feeling… as if something big is missing but you just can’t put your finger on it).
It’s when my time is flexibly allocated to those different areas that I feel most whole, most happy, most like the version of myself that I want to be. It’s that ‘ahhhhhh, this is what the rhythm of life is all about’ feeling.
The big pie slices are easy – work and family. These are two things that I enjoy (family, immensely, obviously) and that there is no ignoring (compartmentalizing, now that’s a whole nother story). The little slices, well I have to work hard at remembering to include those. Those are the easiest to overlook, push aside or give up on altogether because they don’t always feel necessary. We all have different passions, different areas of our lives that inspire us and lead us. When I think about my pie chart, I know that making time for things like ‘being creative’ or ‘Saturday morning hikes’ will make me feel complete, make me feel whole. Another example: I’ve been working with a tech startup for about a year now and it is a few of the most fulfilling hours of my week to watch their little seed sprout and grow. Had I said no and not dedicated a small sliver of my pie to being an ‘entrepreneur’, I may have missed out on one of my greatest joys.
When we ignore what others will think, say or do (in general, the ‘legitimacy’ with which we dedicate hours of our time), we are working towards our own authenticity.
The above pie chart doesn’t really even come close to tackling the priority of any of those items (clearly family is way more important than being active), but, I always have to admit at the end of a long week, that unless I am feeding each of those buckets above, I’m feeling less like myself.
I have come to terms (and now embrace) something else that struck me as a bit off when first approaching the idea of whole: many of my pie slices are drastically subdivided, completely cut off from one another (maybe for my own sanity or maybe because the nature of the pie slice calls for it). Separating those buckets of priorities out doesn’t always feel very organic. Previously I’ve mentioned how crazy it is that family really isn’t a topic in the workplace, and while I sometimes get to be artistic in that environment (as a marketing director), it is this blog that gets me to really put on my ‘creative pie slice’ hat: painting with the girls, making paper flowers, fabric tents or cheese boards, baking with Liv. Ah, that makes me so happy! and it’s totally alright with me if my colleagues don’t see this site or if certain friends don’t understand why I dig my day job.
One last read for everyone who wants to continue this conversation – check out this series on balancing work/life/motherhood by Joanna over at Cup of Jo. I commiserated with so many of these stories. What funny thing do many of them have in common? Regular bedtimes are at 2am! Sometimes you really do just need more hours in the day. :-)
Stepping back though with that ‘forest through the trees’ sort of imagery on what feeling whole means in life to me right now (and what I hope it will mean to me when I’m near finished with it), makes me recognize that I would rather work until 2am every night than leave any of my slices – whether they change, grow or condense – completely empty. It’s a lofty goal but such an important one, too.