April 13, 2016 Confession of a Work-a-holic | Off-season Reboot
For the last three years I’ve lived and breathed this business. Every moment of every day, it was on my mind. I would work on and off from the moment I’d wake up to the moment I’d fall asleep at the end of the night. My mental breaks from work were spent mindlessly scrolling on social media. I was terrible at setting boundaries, taking days off, even taking parts of a day off. Clients would ask for my availability, and I would find the little pockets of free time in my calendar—scheduling every moment of every day in the week. Leaving no time for the “life” part of work-life balance. I would work on the couch next to my husband, Steve while he watched TV or played video games. Lying to myself, pretending that being near each other while I was working was the same as actively spending time together. When we’d go out to dinner, I would be glued to my phone, answering emails as soon as they came in. As much as I missed spending quality time with my husband, my friends and my family, work was necessary and I love what I do so it didn’t feel like much of a sacrifice. That is, until this winter came.
For the last three years, the off season would hit, I would fall into a bit of a depression… but after a week or two of catch-up rest I was fine. At first I embraced the time off, got a lot of rest, and enjoyed the time to unwind. This time it came early and hung on hard. Instead of getting better with time, it just kept getting worse. I felt lost. Weeks turned into months. I had lost any sense of self outside of my business. When I was writing the new bio for this website, I remember struggling to answer the question “what do you do when you’re not working?” I thought to myself, I like traveling, but that’s only 2-3 weeks out of the year. I like snowboarding, but with the winters we get, I only get to go a handful of times a season. What DO I do with my free time? I realized I didn’t have an answer to that. I take naps. I watch Netflix. I take naps while “watching” Netflix. No wonder when work slows, my mental and emotional state suffers. I’m just biding time, wishing away the months until I can have purpose again. This winter, I decided it was time to start changing things. It was time to get my life back. There is no work-life balance, when you’ve forgotten how to have a life.
For my birthday last year, Steve got me a 3 hour private glass blowing lesson at Art of Fire in Laytonsville, Maryland. I’ve always been so fascinated by glass blowing but it wasn’t until my lesson that I even considered a glass blowing hobby a possibility. Bruce asked me if I wanted to pursue glass blowing beyond that class and without missing a beat, before I had even really considered what I was saying, I told him I absolutely would love to. And so began what turned into a whirlwind of instruction. Because I showed so much interest and I had already developed a basic understanding of the tools, they put me right into the intermediate class. Here I am, three months into my glass blowing instruction, and I’ve graduated the advanced class. My partner Katherine and I are now on our own, renting furnace time and free to create our own glass art.
Glass blowing is such a unique art. It’s unlike anything else. The glass is so demanding, you’re committed to a piece from the very first gather until it’s put away in the annealing oven to cool overnight. Your focus needs to be 100% on the piece of glass. Any break in concentration can drastically affect the outcome. It’s hard, it’s dangerous, and like any new skill, it’s so incredibly rewarding to watch your skills develop over time.
In the last few years I’ve also neglected my physical fitness. It just wasn’t a priority. When I had a morning or afternoon “off” it was the last thing I felt I should be trying to fit into my schedule. This winter I was determined to stop making excuses and finally change that. But I know myself, and I know that motivation to go to the gym and do cardio or lift weights isn’t something that I can maintain easily. I need something that’s fun, that’s goal oriented. So I started indoor rock climbing. Much like glass blowing, climbing has a meditative aspect to it. When you’re on the wall, your focus is figuring out the problems and getting to the top. It’s also just a really fun workout where you can be competitive with yourself. You’re constantly growing as a climber whether it’s getting stronger, or building better technique.
This January, I took an incredible photography workshop that changed the way I approached my work. I fell in love with photography even deeper than before. The experience of the workshop was so inspiring and so good for my soul. It was challenging like nothing I’ve ever done before, and I was pushed to the edge on many levels, and I’m better for it.
The “off season” ended with a big vacation. I just got back from exploring Ireland and Iceland with my best friend—my mom. It was so good for the soul to just explore the countryside of these beautiful places, experience the people, drive on the wrong side of the road, and see things we may never see again. I’ve started scheduling time with my husband and my friends, to make sure that the relationships that matter the most don’t suffer. I surround myself with the most wonderful and supportive people. They deserve more.
Challenging myself physically, mentally, professionally, and pulling myself out of my funk has been the theme of this off season. The thing that I’ve noticed is that not only am I happier now that I’ve taken the time to find myself again – but I’m also more creative. I’m more in tune to the emotions on a wedding day, and I’m capturing them with a new eye. I’m a better photographer because I’m a happier person. By investing in myself, I’m investing in a better experience for my clients.
I’m still a work in progress. I still have my moments and my bad days, but they’re a lot less frequent now. I’m still far too addicted to the mindless scrolling on social media. I’m working on being more present in my daily life. I’ve found things that I love to do to keep me sharp and active. I’m working on nurturing the relationships with the people that have supported me in pursuing this dream and letting them know I don’t take them for granted. And most importantly, I’m no longer ignoring me. I am more than just a business. I’m a daughter, a wife, a friend, a glass blower, a climber, a photographer, and a kick ass entrepreneur. I have a life worth living. This business is a huge part of what makes me who I am, but I am so much more.