an unintentional summer hiatus

Hello, everyone! I hope you are savoring these final days of summer. I did not intend to disappear from the blog for three months… but sometimes life gets in the way and I’ve learned to roll with it!

However, I have missed this writing space and time with all of you each week{ish}. I’ve found that taking some time each week to reflect on my life and memories through blogging is a really special way to connect with myself, too. And I’ve missed it! I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things over these next few weeks. BUT I hope you’ll give me grace if I disappear again, because right now my schedule feels very up-and-down day-to-day… because, as you might have seen on Instagram, I’m pregnant!!

We are expecting our rainbow baby girl on November 30, just in time for the holidays! We are both so incredibly excited, and I have to pinch myself all the time that this is REALLY happening. I am overflowing with gratitude that we get to be the parents of this special little one who is growing bigger and stronger every day inside me. I have dealt with a fair share of anxiety throughout this pregnancy, which I am planning to do a whole separate post about. But suffice to say, everything is going well and I am feeling good as I prepare to enter my third trimester.

Time has stretched and compressed in such weird ways during pregnancy. In many aspects, it feels like I have been pregnant FOR.EV.ER — so much has happened since I took that positive test back in March! — but at the same time, it is absolutely crazy to think that we will be parents to newborn baby in a mere 13 weeks.

Parenthood by far is the largest change on the horizon, but 2018 has been filled with many other changes and areas of growth too — which is one reason I took an unintentional hiatus from blogging these past few months! Professionally, I am really excited about the direction my career is going. I still love teaching kids, but when I began thinking about balancing my career with motherhood, I realized that driving all around the Bay Area for hour-long in-person lessons was not going to be feasible if I wanted to stay at home with my baby. I wanted something I could do online, from my home office, without having to commute. I also felt a yearning to try something new, to stretch, to push myself out of my comfort zone.

So, back in April, I took a leap. Allyn was incredibly supportive of making an investment in my learning and career, and so I enrolled in a 10-week online “business boot camp” program called Permission to Charge. {I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to start or grow their own coaching-style business!} I learned all about creating a viable online business where I can serve others from my place of passion and expertise. I have been unofficially serving as a writing coach, editor and mentor for years… now it is extremely energizing to turn this into a structured program. In June, I officially launched my 90-Day Book Breakthrough Program to help people give birth to the books that are burning inside them… in just 90 days! You can learn all about it here, and you can also watch a free 45-minute webinar I created here that delves into my 5 steps to stop procrastinating and FINALLY write your book!

Currently, I am working with a handful of clients who are making such amazing progress on their book projects. It lights up my soul to be part of their journeys to becoming authors. I only take on clients whose projects I resonate with and who have a powerful message they are inspired to share with the world. Getting to help them do so is incredibly rewarding. I love watching them shine, and I am learning so much from reading their marvelous books-in-progress!

The timing was also serendipitous with this new business venture because I have a few risk factors in this pregnancy — namely, preeclampsia & preterm labor — so I have been required to really s l o w  d o w n  and cut back on my work a lot. This definitely goes against my natural instincts and was difficult at first, but I keep reminding myself that taking care of this baby is the most important thing, and to do that I need to have the healthiest pregnancy possible. So I take naps, rest throughout the day, and listen to my body above all else.

While starting a new business might seem like piling extra onto my plate, actually the number of hours I work has decreased drastically. I have stopped all of my in-person teaching {no long commuting and rushing all around town for appointments takes a huge load of stress off my daily routine!} and I only work with a handful of my best online students. I am also getting better at delegating and saying no with grace, and I am learning how to automate different systems so I am better able to plan ahead.

What else have I been up to these past few months?

  • In June we traveled to San Diego for my cousin’s wedding, which was a blast; and in July we headed to Santa Barbara for another cousin’s wedding, which was beautiful.
  • I spent about two weeks home with my parents in Ventura, where my mom and honorary aunt Alicia threw me an amazing baby shower, and I also taught my eleventh annual {!!!} Summer Writing Camp for kids and teens.
  • I had a book signing event at my favorite indie bookstore, Mrs. Figs’ Bookworm, to celebrate Woman, Running Late, in a Dress — it is so wonderful to hear from people who have read and enjoyed the book.
  • Allyn and I took a relaxing trip to Lake Tahoe with his family, and we’re heading off on another local getaway this weekend to celebrate our two-year wedding anniversary — which is doubling as a “babymoon”! I can’t wait.
  • My mother-in-law and sister-in-law threw us an incredible co-ed baby shower last weekend up here in the Bay Area. Baby Mac is already so loved, and I feel so grateful for the community of support we have surrounding us.
  • The rest of the summer has been spent soaking up time with friends, soaking up time as a couple, and preparing to become parents as best we can!

I think that about brings us up to date, and hopefully explains why I’ve been MIA the past three months. I’d love to hear the highlights of your summer, and what you’re looking forward to the rest of this year!

 

Your turn {if you want}:

Grab your journal or open a new document on your computer and “free-write” on the following questions:

  • What have been your favorite parts of this summer? Make a list of everything you have done — you might be surprised how long it is!
  • Have you ever taken a leap into a new venture, even if it scared you a little? Write about the experience, what you learned, and how you grew from it.
  • How do you slow down and take a step back from work commitments and obligations? What are your favorite ways to de-stress and center yourself?

must be nice…

The other day, while waiting in line at the grocery store, I overheard a comment about a TV show host that caught my attention.

“Must be nice,” the person said. “Getting paid that much to just work a couple hours a day.”

I am obviously not a TV host, but still this comment made me bristle. Because I recognized the inherent criticism in these words: the idea that the value of one’s work is dependent on the amount of time one puts in, and furthermore that all the behind-the-scenes work somehow doesn’t “count.”

All of our jobs have behind-the-scenes work; but I think we as a society tend to recognize this work more in some jobs than we do others. When we watch a Broadway play, we understand that the actors don’t just come onstage and perform and that is their entire job—we know that there are many, many hours of rehearsal behind each glittery performance. When we hire someone to remodel our kitchen, we “count” the work it takes them to draw up the plans. When someone clocks into work, especially a 9-5 job with traditional hours, we generally think of their behind-the-scenes work—all the emails and meetings and billing and drudgery—as part of that work time. We measure it and count it and value it. All of it.

But what about when someone’s job has less clearly defined parameters? Someone whose “working hours” in the public eye might not include the entire scope of their job? One example that springs immediately to my mind are teachers. “Must be nice,” I have heard people say about the teaching profession. “Get off work at 3pm and then have the entire summer off.” I think statements like these are ludicrous. My friends who are teachers, including my aunt and my sister-in-law, are some of the hardest-working people I know who care immensely about their jobs. My sister-in-law might leave school property at 4pm, but more often than not she goes home and plans lessons until late at night. She is there for her students before school, after school, during lunch, and she regularly goes above-and-beyond planning field trips and interactive learning events for them.

Plus, beyond all the hours great teachers put in “behind the scenes,” they are such treasures because they make such a difference! I have been so fortunate that I can point to a dozen teachers who have had a profound impact on my life, who I still think of often to this day. Teachers are educating our future. Why do we, as a society, not value their work more? Why do we write them off with, “Must be nice…”?

Let’s stop doing this. Let’s stop writing each other off. 

Perhaps it’s a grass-is-always greener situation. Just as we should not compare our insides to other people’s outsides, we should be careful not to compare the insides of our jobs with the outsides of other people’s jobs. For example, my dad was a sports columnist for many years {he is now a general interest columnist and also writes books and magazine articles} and people often remarked to him how lucky he was to “get paid for watching sports.” While he was fortunate to have a job he was passionate about, watching a sports event in order to write about it for the newspaper is entirely different from watching a sports event as a fan. He was working. Taking notes, conducting interviews, shaping and writing his column during the game, having to go back and erase and change it based on the outcome, and then having to bang it out and file in time for the next day’s paper to be printed. Dad used to joke that the best type of game as a fan—the nail-biting, triple-overtime, down-to-the-wire thriller—was the worst type of game as a sports columnist, because you had no idea until the final buzzer what the outcome would be. You pretty much had to write TWO columns, one for each outcome, because there would never be enough time to write the entire thing after the game ended before your deadline. It would be easy for people to look at my dad’s career and think, “Must be nice…” But they had no idea all of the “behind the scenes” work his job entailed.

The reason that I think this “must be nice” mindset is dangerous is because it isn’t just fair to the people we are undervaluing: it also isn’t fair to ourselves. This mindset puts us in the realm of “victim” and ignores the drudgery and busywork and unglamorous parts that are present in pretty much every job. Susan Hyatt writes about this very eloquently in her blog post/podcast “The Parts You Don’t See.”

Furthermore, this mindset takes away our power rather than empowering us. It pretends that other people have it better than we do, easier than we do, cushier than we do. It does not acknowledge all the hard work they put in to get where they are, and also undermines our own efforts to work hard and advance in our careers. When you accomplish your big career goals, do you want someone looking at you and saying that you are so lucky to be where you are? No! It’s not darn luck—it took years of busting your butt!

When you feel yourself slipping into the defeatist perspective that other people have it easier than you do, I challenge you to take a step back and think about all the hard work it took for them to get where they are. Then challenge yourself to focus on your own hard work to accomplishing your own goals. Keep your eyes on your own paper. Cultivate a mindset of gratitude. Think about it. What makes you more motivated: feeling jealous of other people’s lives, or feeling grateful for all the beauty and blessings in your own life? I know for me, the answer is easy. Gratitude wins by a landslide every time.

 

Your turn {if you want}:

Grab your journal or open a new document on your computer and use the following questions as jumping-off points for some free-writing:

  • What are the “behind-the-scenes” aspects of your job that other people might not recognize?
  • Write about a time you felt valued, or undervalued. What was your reaction?
  • What is your “dream job”? Why?
  • Are there any professions you envy? What do you envy about them? What hard or unglamorous work might also be wrapped up in these jobs?
  • What do you love about your current job, right now, in this moment?