Build A Fire

Managing personal, daily responsibilities alongside creative priorities feels, to me, a lot like trying to boil water without a stove. There are ways to do it, but it takes a lot more work and resourcefulness than you’d prefer. You have to build a fire.

I go through periods of sitting in the dark often. No fire, no stove, and certainly no boiled water. But the most frustrating part is that we all have our valid reasons for these misaligned responsibilities and priorities that can lead to darkness. My reasons, for example (since I’m painfully aware of my own and have made it a sort of habit to call out my own imperfections in this space), have to do with lack of time and with other, “more important” tasks than, say, oh I don’t know, writing a chapter of a book or drafting a blog post.

Limited time and limitless tasks might not be far off base from your reasons, either. I’m pretty sure we all wrestle with time management (or just a deficit of enough time) and needing to get the *really* important things done before we get the things we’d like to do done.

For me, the stuff that comes before my personal writing projects makes up a pretty long list: clean the kitchen, walk the dog, declutter the desk, vacuum, work on freelance assignments, make breakfast, make lunch, make dinner, clean up after any given meal, work out, answer emails. I spend a good portion of the week with the little boy I nanny for. I spend a good portion of my nights reading…or watching Bravo. (Okay, mostly watching Bravo.)

Most of those tasks are simply things I need to get done to function normally and make a living, but where do the creative priorities fit in? (And they are still priorities…even if they don’t always make it on the day’s list of must-dos.) For me, I’m learning over and over again that nothing happens in an instant. Writing a book takes time. Curating content online takes resiliency and consistency.

I’m also continuing to learn my strengths: I’m a big morning lover, and that’s when my creativity and productivity are their absolute highest. So, on the days when I have a full schedule, I know I won’t get any writing in if I save it until 9 at night. (Let’s be honest, it probably won’t happen after 3 in the afternoon.) Even on days when my routine is a little slower and more flexible, a sit-down in front of my computer or with a notebook first thing can kick things off in a way more positive way than scrolling through Instagram in bed for a half hour.

Plus, at 7 a.m., I usually don’t have a sky-high to-do list full of all my responsibilities yet, and many of those can wait until later in the day anyway, when my left-brained creative madness has chilled out a little.

It really takes a degree of self-awareness and some diligence, but the necessary duties of life don’t need to constantly outweigh the fulfillment and forward motion of a side project or two. Take it from me — I’ve been learning and resisting and relearning this lesson too many times to count. Do the thing makes your soul feel less crazy — clean the kitchen, go for a run. But also make sure you do the thing that makes your soul feel set ablaze.

Why I Quit My “Dream” Job at a Magazine to Become a Full-time Nanny

When I learned in the spring of 2016 that John got into Vanderbilt’s business graduate program, I was ecstatic and terrified. I worked at a job I wasn’t crazy for at Dallas’ city magazine, where, ironically, I had dreamed of working for a couple years before snagging my position. Before that job, I had worked two others, one at a PR company and one at a startup, both in creative-ish roles that looked fantastic on paper but fell flat as soon as I sat down at my desk in front of a computer for eight hours a day. Turns out, I don’t enjoy sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day.

After discovering I wasn’t happy or totally fulfilled at either of those first two jobs, going on to the third made me feel like that millennial. The “three jobs in one-and-a-half years after graduating” millennial. Yep, I was job-hopping with the best (worst?) of my peers. My first week at job number three, where I was navigating dozens of Excel spreadsheets and learning how to manage online voting systems for Best Doctors and Best Lawyers awards, left me feeling a bit trapped. I hated it — but how could I leave another job AGAIN? I would not only feel like that millennial; I knew I would be one, no question. And who the heck hires that millennial?

So, I stayed for a year and a half, until the news of John’s school admittance came. Hallelujah. Counting the weeks until our move, I knew I didn’t want to be staring at the clock until 5 o’clock at another desk, doing work that made my eyes bloodshot and my mind feel mushy by the end of the day. Freelance, I thought, is the way to go.

I ended up getting a remote copy editing job for Nashville’s local magazine, which I still have and adore. But that one check pays, oh, maybe a third of my bills. I emailed other publications, applied for freelance roles I found on LinkedIn and Indeed, and, on a whim, signed up for care.com, thinking I could at least babysit or nanny in the interim between moving and finding more writing work.

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Where Have I Been?

Good question. You may or may not have wondered what happened to the ol’ website that is frecklesandfigs.com for the last couple of months. I have, even if you haven’t. I’ve asked myself way too many times, How long can one avoid blogging until they need to remove “blogger” from their Instagram bio? The truth is, every time I’ve sat down to brainstorm topics to write on or started to click away on my keyboard, one of several rotating excuses pops into my mind.

First, though, let me say how much I hate when people in my life make excuses for things I understand they want to prioritize. For example, when my boyfriend expresses that he wants to workout but simply doesn’t have the time, in my head, I’m like, You’ll have the time when you make the time, buddy.

Isn’t it sad and hilarious how the things we tend to harp on about others are often the things we dislike in ourselves? So, yeah. I’m going to be honest about the excuses that have been keeping me from this place that has been such a wonderful and powerful outlet for my all-over-the-place thoughts and musings.

Before we get to those, I’ll tell you where I really have been. I’ve been traveling: home for my grandpa’s 90th birthday celebration and to Texas for a girlfriend’s bachelorette party in the hill country and to Asheville, NC, for a trip full of card games and delicious food with my boyfriend’s family. I’ve been adding freelance clients to my roster, whom I write several pieces of content, including blog posts and social media copy, for every week. I’ve been spending time with my sister, who has lived in Nashville for the summer doing travel nursing, going to concerts, drinking too much rosé, and talking about life face to face, which we haven’t done so regularly since high school (the chats, not the wine and concerts). I’ve been tip-toeing more and more out of my comfort zone — I joined a small group at my church, have done some volunteering, have attended way more spontaneous social get-togethers than I would prefer. (I’m a planner; have you noticed?)

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Get Out of Your Way

Two months later and hello! In case you were wondering, I took a little break over here. It wasn’t really on purpose. One week, I missed writing a blog post, and then the next week I didn’t write one, either, and then again and again the next and next weeks.

I kept thinking to myself, I should really write something, but then I’d get bogged down with what outfits I’d shoot (because that’s what lifestyle bloggers do, gosh dang it), whether or not I wanted to (or could afford to) pay for photography that week, not wanting to just write “filler” content (see: my last post where I was really reaching to get just about anything that came to mind written and published), not feeling inspired, and blah blah blah. I feel like I’ve been here and written about this inner-tug to slow down and step back before. Oh, why yes, I have.

So, I’m not complaining over here — just being honest: I let life get in the way of writing and then wallowed in the realization that I let life get in the way of writing. And then (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve heard this story) something awful happened to the unrelenting people pleaser that I am.Read More