Friday, May 31, 2019

Cats! Cats! Cats!

I am in the middle of day three of eleven of cat work. Or, as I like to call it, professional cat lady-ing. The jobs seem to come in spurts, and this suits me. For this run I've got three different clients, and there is a bit of overlap, but nothing unmanageable. Tomorrow will be the busiest, with two clients both morning and evening. And then it tapers off for a few days, picks up for a few days, and then I'll be done. For morning jobs, I've got to get the work done before Jarod needs to leave for work, and as a non-morning person, this is a challenge. However, I am a professional cat lady, so I do what I have to do.

I have been surprised at the amount of business I have been getting - I am one of the higher priced cat sitters in my area, so I assumed I'd get a couple of people who were really into their cats and wanted a proper cat lady to come look after their cats, but mostly people would choose someone more affordable. Well! I am happy to find that I was wrong. In fact, if business continues to pick up, I'll start having to make actual business decisions, like about how many days I am willing to work in a row, and then how much of a break I want in between. As it stands now, I will likely need to file taxes next year, which I honestly did not think would happen. It's good to be surprised! And I do like that people trust me with their cats and in their homes, and choose me above a bargain.

This work is a gift to me, and I won't pretend that it's not. It's been a gift to our family as a whole, really, because it allows us a little more financial breathing room, and we have been able to purchase some things that we've wanted and/or needed but have not been able to afford. That said, it's still just a side hustle. My main occupation remains home education and facilitating various things that allow us to have a good family life and for the kids to develop the skills they need to flourish as adults. This work will always take a backseat to that, and this is what I am keeping in mind as I make my professional cat lady business decisions for the future.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

In Pursuit of a Little More Quiet

We've just returned from the annual church conference. It's basically a bunch of people from our Orthodox Christian Deanery that get together at a conference center outside the city and listen to talks and have discussions based on a theme. There is a children's program, which I now help plan and carry out, somewhat under duress (kidding but not kidding, if you know what I mean), but this year I made the time to listen to a couple of the talks and to attend the icon workshop. Being raised Protestant, my knowledge of and appreciation for icons was nonexistent before I became Orthodox myself, and even after ten years I still have a lot to learn. What I do know is that I love icons, and that I want to learn more about them, so signing up for this workshop was the thing to do. Above is my practice drawing the lines of icons. The goal with the hands is that they wouldn't look like a bunch of bananas. I think I was somewhat successful, but I need more practice, and I must make time for that practice.

I am trying gradually to make more space in my life for a variety of things which are enriching to me both emotionally and spiritually. The challenging part of this is that, having proved myself reliable and capable, I get asked to do a lot of things, and while I have gotten good at saying no, I am not good at ending things which are not a good fit. I've gotten myself into a bit of a pickle because, in the past, I accepted some jobs which are leading to burnout, and for which I now know I am not well suited. So there are some opportunities ahead to grow as a person, to learn to gently but firmly assert what I can and cannot do.

The other challenging part is retaining my sense of the importance of these self-enriching pursuits in my life. So much cries out for my attention, and the easiest things to sideline are the things which matter only to me. In some ways, this is as it should be, but in other ways, it is not to anyone's advantage when I neglect to take time to settle my own heart and mind. I am also mindful that after so many years of intensity in our family life, I am in need of a rest for my spirit as well as for my body if I hope to continue to parent my children well, and then when they no longer need me, to offer of myself to a new pursuit of caring. When I think  of what I would like to do once my own children do not need me as much anymore, I know that I want to continue to offer care directly in some way to others. That will not happen if I am completely burned out. I must take this time, when my children's needs are not so big as they once were, but are still big enough that their care and education is my main occupation, to recalibrate, to find balance and rest.

So I am going to make space for creative, spirit-nurturing pursuits, ten minutes a day at minimum, hopefully more. If I am successful, this will result in a little drawing practice, a little more writing about things that are in my heart and on my mind, a little more time that is spent in quiet. And eventually, it will result in me feeling ready for whatever comes next.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

This Latest Lesson

Hey! Here's another cat photo! You're welcome! (Seriously though, you're welcome. Look at that adorable snuggling! Teddy can't even breathe under there probably, but he is committed to the snuggle. Adorable.)

I've been meaning to write all week. I have so much to say. But it turns out that resting works, and so I keep resting instead of doing other things, including trying to string some words together at the end of the day.

I am finally well after many weeks of having a cold/flu/whatever. It was only rest that made a difference. I am learning a big life lesson about rest. I've already learned some big life lessons about food and exercise, and now rest is next.

It's actually just one life lesson, really. These things are all related. The lesson is this: I can trust my body. Yes, it's that simple. It turns out that my body will tell me what it needs and when it needs it. I don't need to follow a complicated system. It can actually be easy. Or simple, at least. It is never easy to quiet the voices I've heard all my life, that still try to clamor for my attention.

We are told in so many ways that we absolutely cannot trust our bodies. We are given the message that our bodies are something to conquer. Aging, weight gain, the potential for illness. We must be ever vigilant! But is this vigilance, this conquering, actually good? For me, no. I have fought against my body for far too long. I have chosen to nurture it instead. I have been given this one body, and it is a good body. It was made well, and I can trust what it is telling me.

I want to share more about what this has looked like for me, this shift from conquering to nurturing, and I will. It has taken a long time to come to this place. But I feel better than I have in years, especially mentally. My body is my friend, not my enemy. It is a gift.