Balance

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Posted by Annie Kayser, Working Mommie | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 24-07-2011

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Okay, so here it is 3 weeks after my last day at the hospital ~ I’ve had my week long vacation in Seattle with my daughter, I’ve come back and completely engulfed myself in photography sessions (9 in 9 days!), and now I have sat down to tackle the processing of said sessions and began to tackle my “self-employment” to-do list… ummm… yeah. I don’t see the balance in my life that I thought would come from not working “full-time”. I am working “full-time”. In fact, I have no idea how I was working a 40+ hour a week job on top of my business 3 weeks ago! Good, right? Yes… definitely, no doubt. I want this volume of work! But prioritizing my own life is turning out to be a little more challenging than prioritizing at “work”.

Being laid off and coming face to face with my business came with a lot of uncertainties. Here is my list:

1- Health Insurance (BIG DEAL!)
2- Unemployment applications
3- Unemployment income while trying build a business with income, how does this affect me?
4- Cash flow of business income as opposed to regular paychecks every 2 weeks
5- Getting serious about booking clients
6- Getting serious about having the proper forms in place, contracts to protect myself, etc.
7- Beginning to materialize real marketing campaigns
8- Understanding how many clients I need per month / per year to succeed
9- Formulating a TRUE business plan, something that I’ve done in recent years, but was not as detailed as it should be.
10- Redoing branding, to truly represent who I am and what I offer
11- Streamline workflow to make myself more efficient

There is more, I know there is… this is just a sample of the To-Do list that is SO important, yet feels slightly scary because I haven’t yet found the time to tackle most of it. I started at the top. Health Insurance ~ CHECK! Got my card in the mail today. I’ve been so fortunate to work for Sutter Health and have had the BEST health insurance known to man (I believed anyway). Never paid anything, even through a pregnancy, delivery, hospital stay, post-partum care, TWO surgeries, pediatric care… nothing. So to be faced with possibly not being accepted because of “pre-existing conditions” was certainly scary! Card in hand as of today, I feel blessed. I’m okay with paying $40 office visits and a high deductible for everything else ~ it’s worth it to go after my dream. Unemployment, check! Filed and approved. I am running my own business, but since my “day job” was my main source of income, and I was laid off, I am eligible. I have no idea what is in store for me, so it’s tricky understanding the system in this case. I know I need to report what I make from my business to the state and they will deduct what I am paid based on that, and that is fine. It’s just nice to know I have the safety net for a while if it’s not working out for me. Times. Are. Tough. Period. We all know this. Navigating this new realm is well… scary too.

I used to get a paycheck every two weeks ~ that predictable schedule makes it easy for everyone to pay their bills when they are due, have money automatically withdrawn for your car payment, etc… now that has changed as well. If I’m not producing and selling, I’m not making income. This is all on me! Whoa. It has only been 3 weeks (2 if you don’t count my trip to Seattle), so I’m definitely cutting myself some slack. I know that finding the balance will take time ~ finding what pace is right for me… shooting lots, then pulling back to process them all and sending out the galleries close together? Or shooting only a couple, working on those, etc? I’ll have to see what feels right for me. This is so wonderful, but so new! I’m used to being up every night until 1am, 2am sometimes. I now get to choose if I want to go to bed at a reasonable time, or keep working, and that choice in and of itself is FANTASTIC!

I won’t go on about the other things on my list… I just put those there to talk about the multitude of things that I am realizing I must tackle, and not because I have to, but because I can ~ because I have this opportunity to truly make a difference in my life and make this business a reality, and a success story. The thing that I am most excited about, aside from getting to play with kids and their families everyday (because THAT ROCKS), is getting to be with my daughter more. I still keep her on the same daycare schedule, but I get an extra day with her a week. On top of that, my time with her doesn’t feel as rushed anymore. I am so grateful, and truly feel a shift in my relationship with her. I am blessed, and pray every day now that I can keep this up ~ so that I can continue to be ever more present in my daughter’s life… and my own.

A Baby Day

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 04-04-2011

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Yesterday was what our household of three refers to as a “Baby Day.”  A Baby Day is a day in which most of the day’s activities revolve around “baby.”  (As I type that definition, I realize I have just described most days!).  Anyhow, more specifically, a Baby Day means that responsibilities take a backseat to fun, and that we’re very deliberate in our planning – always keeping DJ’s interests in mind.

We started off by going out to breakfast near a train station.  DJ munched on sourdough toast with butter (her new favorite combo) and giddily bounced in her booster chair as the “choo choos” passed by.  After breakfast, she and my husband watched an hour of motocross (I’m certain I’ve previously mentioned DJ’s obsession with dirt bikes), while I took a closed-door shower!  Can I just tell you what a difference it makes to start the day off with a long, hot shower without a game of peek-a-boo around the shower curtain?  Heaven.

After motocross (and the slight trauma caused by the administration of a glycerin suppository because of some mean constipation – DJ, not me), we headed out to Happy Hollow with some great friends who were kind enough to endure the kiddie chaos.  DJ was almost as fascinated by the Meerkats and Lemurs as she was by the pebbles she gathered in her hand along the way.  She rode a Merry-Go-Round for the first time, noshed on a Hebrew National, and even pet some food-crazed goats.

When we got home, DJ got to take a nap with me – all cuddled up in my jersey knit sheets.  When we woke up, we went to REI and got a baby seat for my husband’s bike, along with some new shoes for DJ.  We assembled the bike seat, bundled DJ up, strapped on her fashionable helmet adorned with a cupcake design, and headed off for some dinner burritos.  DJ absolutely loved the bike ride, and even threw a tantrum when we parked the bikes for dinner (she also refused to remove her helmet throughout dinner).

As we were cruising home, sky darkening and breeze increasing, I was absolutely overwhelmed with joy.  I kept thinking, “This is what life is all about.”  And it is.  For me.  This is what my life is all about – family moments, making memories, embarking on new adventures, seeing my baby girl beaming with delight.

For several hours yesterday, the financial stressors vanished, the to-do list faded into the background, the tension from an earlier lover’s quarrel was forgiven, and all felt absolutely right in the world.  Our priorities revolved around creating a good time – and once we let go of all the things that typically prevent us from unabashedly laughing our tails off, the fun was more organic than it was planned.

All I know is that we need to weave more “baby days” into our lives – they’re good for our souls.  It’s so nice to be reminded of the most important things in life, like coming together to giggle over silly things, eating dessert before dinner, and making it a point to escape our “adultness” for the good of our longing spirits.

What will your “baby day” consist of?  Plan it now!

When Separation Becomes Joy

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Posted by webmaster | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 21-11-2010

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During Halloween week this year, I learned something about the process of growing up.  No, I’m not talking about my children.  I’m talking about me.

Halloween was fast approaching and my youngest daughter is at the age where I knew she would want to spend the holiday with her friends.  I had gone through this with my two older children, but she is my last so I knew this would be a bit different.

As a single Dad, you split your time and you have a lot less time than a full time father to do the unique holidays for various reasons such as they don’t fall on the calendar date you spend with the children.

It’s always been difficult for me to give up time with the kids because the time I spend with them is already cut in half.  I have tried to be real about the fact that they would grow up and would need to spend more time with their friends than they would with me.  So, when they needed to attend dances, sports, choir, or an excursion with friends, I’ve said okay nearly every time.

This year, she had a field hockey tournament the day before, carved pumpkins with her siblings at her mom’s house, and had a friend she typically trick or treats with.

This year, I decided to take a proactive approach to the way I was feeling pretty terminal about the whole holiday. So, instead of focusing on the fact that I wasn’t going to spend Halloween with her, I focused on what ‘I’ was going to do to have a good time.

Parenting on the Peninsula

And so that weekend, I finished making my Halloween costume and attended not one, but two Halloween parties with someone special.  And it wasn’t just good, it turned out great!

I didn’t worry about whether my daughter was having a good time or not – she always does.  I very much enjoyed myself and really let go for the first time in years.

I realized after that weekend, that it’s not the fact that I didn’t get to share the holiday with her, but rather the fact that I was realizing she was growing up.  Things were different now and there wouldn’t be a ‘next year’.

And that’s one of life’s biggest lessons, isn’t it?  That we can never go back.  That we should always enjoy every moment right now.  That there is happiness after they grow up.  And that there is even a time that when separation becomes joy.

New Perspective

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 09-08-2010

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The last few weeks, I’ve written about feeling overwhelmed and overextended.  I’ve written about losing my joy, my patience – and quite frankly, my mind.  I am pleased to say that I’ve managed to change my perspective, which has made all the difference.

A few weeks ago, I forced myself to reevaluate my priorities.  Somewhere along the line, finances, achievements and recognition became my focus.  I got so resentful when these things became the center of my attention because they just weren’t ever enough.  I was growing sick of my own attitude (and can’t imagine how others around me were feeling!) and decided to make a change.

I had to stop and ask myself what was most important in life.  I had to recall why I had once been over the moon about the privilege of taking care of DJ myself.  I had to list out the reasons why I was blessed.  It sounds so pathetic now, but it was such a valuable exercise – and one that has genuinely changed my heart.

When I finally remembered that family, and joyful parenting, comes before everything else, I was able to reprioritize the importance of each task in my day.  True, I have taken on a lot of responsibilities outside of the home – but I am able to manage them with clarity.  All I do is ask myself “What is my goal for today?”  The answer is always the same….”To make DJ feel loved, secure and important.”  If I am not meeting that goal, then the task at hand is not worth my energy.

This doesn’t mean that I am all DJ all of the time, it means that I have to approach each mundane chore with a fresh perspective.  A simple trip to Kinkos turns into a lesson about the fun in pushing buttons on a copy machine.  Going to the grocery store allows me the opportunity to let DJ sample different fruits.  Doing the laundry provides DJ a fun ride in the basket to and from the garage.   I had to stop thinking of all the ways that entertaining a child while meeting my responsibilities was sooo difficult…..ick, what a poor me attitude.

It feels good to bear in mind that this is just a season.  DJ is only 11 months old.  She won’t be this dependent on me forever – nor will she want to spend this much time with me as she gets older.  It’s helpful to remember that motherhood is a gift, and to treat it as such (even if we have considered re-gifting it from time to time!).