Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Try as I might, I just can't think of a better word to describe the past few months.

I feel as though my mind has just been spinning without knowing what direction I should choose, what direction I even WANT to go in, and I've had a really hard time with that. I've thought many times about using this blog or a journal or something to get my thoughts out, to see if that would help clarify what my next move is, but I've come to a funny realization.

It turns out that if I don't feel like I know where I want to go, I just go.....nowhere. I have a really hard time even forming thoughts to MYSELF that go anywhere when I don't know what I want to result to be. 

There is precious little in my life that has not had a definite plan, a goal, a trajectory. I typically know what I want my result to be, and while the steps to get there may require work, it's generally been easy to map out those steps. 

I knew in 4th grade that I wanted to be an architect. A teacher suggest it to my parents at a conference, and I latched onto that idea, and I worked my butt off to achieve it. I didn't necessarily have a specific picture of my family life, but I suppose I always had an ingrained picture of what it might look like based on how I grew up, and I (we) have made that happen. In many ways, there has always been a "next" step to look toward, something that would drastically change my life. College, grad school, work, wedding, house, professional license, family.

And now? Now I'm not sure. It seems like the next.....well.....30 or so years are going to either be much the same, or just incremental change, right up until retirement. That doesn't necessarily feel big, or scary, because it's so far away and something we've been planning for and saving for like most people our age and circumstance, the ones not expecting a pension and not coming from any family money. And we'll continue to do that, but daaaang that's a long time of "the same" until then. 

I guess this is what a quarter......third.....some random fraction before mid-life crisis feels like?

Crisis feels too strong though. I'm not in "crisis." Maybe I'm in doldrums. I just feel in the middle. Ok, not even the middle, but over the beginning parts, the getting used to it bits, and it just feels.....directionless? 

While I've been doing all of this mental spinning, I couldn't even seem to come up with a couple of scenarios to flesh out. That's actually a tendency I've been working on at work too. I'll partially develop all kinds of different layouts in my mind and reject them for one reason or another, and the only one that will make it onto paper (or screen) looks like it's the only one I've tried. It's something I really should work on more in life too. Sometimes when you lay something out, even if it's wrong or it won't work or you don't like it for some reason, it may spark some other thought that IS an interesting idea. 

I think I have fear of the blank page. I've had a hard time looking at the blank page on my blog. I have a dim desire to write a book sometime in my life, but because I can't picture what I would want it to be about, I'm not sure I'll ever start. (children's, fiction, research, professional, not sure, therefore I don't want to think about it.) I have been wanting to start drawing again, but I'm paralyzed by doing it "wrong." I used to draw all the time. It's the REASON that 4th grade teacher thought I'd make a good architect. Then I got to college and saw all these people who were actually REALLY good at it, and I just....stopped. I felt intimidated and sloppy. I went to a design school, and in some ways it made me afraid to design. How messed up is that. I look around at all the makers and Etsy-ers and quit your day job, make your own way-ers. It feels so romantic, that overnight success which probably took years, but it looks effortless and fun. I can't even bring myself to sign up for a table at our school's craft fair, because what would I even make that's worth making that people would want to buy when surely someone is already doing it, and doing it better. And then, if I hit on that awesome thing that people love that they DO want to buy, do I really want to BE a one man sweatshop churning out the same widget day after day? On top of a job and all the other stuff? Or, even scarier, INSTEAD of a job, where you're livelihood depends on keeping people interested in that widget or the next one, living life on social media and marketing and selling all the time? (Actually thinking of all that has made it easier for me to say, um, no, that's not what I want.)

Plus there's the time factor. I want to go in all of these directions, all at the same time, but there isn't the actual, physical time in which to do it. Most days, the hours between 7am and 8pm are fully spoken for, and mostly not directed by me. There's the j-o-b on the weekdays, and the aforementioned hands on season of mothering the other days and after the work time. And don't get me wrong, I want both of those things. But I also want me time, quiet time, creative time, lazy time. But also there's sleep. And couple time. And family time. And friend time. And laundry time (always laundry). And there's just not enough time.

I know I don't have life rocking changes on the horizon. But I know there are incremental changes coming. Soon my day hours won't be quite so intensely directed by small people. I will be able to use my sewing room more freely once everyone in the house can navigate the stairs to and from. Then I don't have to be so ELSEwhere to work on things, which will make me feel less guilty for abandoning people or not carrying my load. Even this summer will be easier to leave the house and just spend time in the yard. It's just the getting there that's been kind of hard. I know I'm certainly not the first nor the last to say it, but mothering certainly has a way of making you lose bits of yourself.

Despite all of that, I guess I'm starting to feel my way out of that "getting there" fog, that directionless spinning. Maybe part of it has been work stuff, as I've had some loss of direction in the past few months. I made a decision, finally, last week to accept a position with a new company. I've been with my current company 6 years, which is not a super long time, but pretty respectable in today's work world. It was a really hard decision for me because, while I've been in a project lull for several months, I can see real potential for things to improve in the future. Another local firm reached out to me with an interesting offer, and I decided to go for it. A lot of coworkers from a past firm are there and quite happy from what I hear, and I think it will be a good fit. It would have been a much easier decision if I was REALLY not into one or the other, but I had the distinctly first world problem of two very good options, and good enough terms at my current (soon to be former) firm that the door would remain open to me if things change in the future. I had a cup of tea the night I accepted the offer and saw this, and that settled my mind a bit. I always believe in fortunes when they feel so spot on, even if they are more "statement of fact" than "fortune." (Of course I ignore them the other 90% of the time when they don't make sense or tell me things I don't want to hear, so take that with a big grain of salt.)

Another thing that will be sort of huge will be building our new house. We bought land last year, but have had a hazy 2-3 year timeline since then on when we will actually start. The new job, and pay increase that should usually come with a new job if you're lucky, are helping bring that timeline into sharper focus. We still.....still....haven't had our plans priced out, but I feel like building next summer or fall (2018) may be a reality. There hasn't been much impetus to develop our plans to a pricing level so far, because without a deadline....well, we aren't good at working without a deadline. Plus it just felt unattainable to get what we wanted with my salary what it was. But now that's changing, so it feels like it's time. It's scary though, because as architects, we can't just pick something from a catalog and build it with its pre-figured pricing. No. We know too much about what we want, so it of course must be custom and non-standard. However....we are not residential architects, which means that we simultaneously know too little, and I'm terrified that a builder will take one look at us and our precious plan and raise his rates by 150%. Which will make the financing out of reach again, and the timeline could fall back out of focus, and with just feeling out of focus in general, well, that's been a hard step to take. 

And like always, just putting SOMETHING down to start feels better. It always does. Something to build off of, or something to scrap because at least now you know.

Decisions made - no, I will not be quitting my day job to become an artisanal soap maker, yarn dyer, professional knitter. I will, however, be trying out a new day job. I (we) will work to bring our house plan down to the square footage that we think we can afford, and set meetings with a couple of builders. Like writing that first word or drawing that first line, at least then we will have a place to start from. Maybe it will be ok and within range, and we can start the next steps of securing financing and setting down a schedule. Maybe it won't and we'll have to value engineer ourselves, and that's ok too. Lord knows we've done it enough at work! 

But I guess the lesson for me in all of this ramble is to just start. It's ok and GOOD to rip that bandaid off. Make the first mark. Just pick something. Apply force....overcome inertia.

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