When I say I’m your average 30-something chick, basically I’m saying I love Joanna Gaines, too.
The shelves, the shiplap. Every chunky bracelet she’s ever worn. But I became a super fan in one of the early episodes when she talked to the camera about her work and life. The gist: Chip and I are small business owners. There isn’t balance so much as just getting the work done.
Bingo, Jo-Jo. And me too because I see balance everywhere except in actual life. Oh, it’s an agenda all right, with powerful lobbyists and a hefty advertising budget. Take this month’s magazine covers, each promoting how a girl can be all she needs to be to everyone who needs her while keeping her abs tight, her mantle decorated, and her schedule organized. Five minutes here cobbled with 15 minutes there to build incremental 24-hour days that are just enough time to do … everything!
How convenient, but the math doesn’t add up. You know this. Like me, you’ve probably chased balance and never.quite.achieved.it. We’re not alone. Ask any girl who’s done a Big Thing – something that required significant focus and energy over a sustained period of time. Ran a company. Ran a 5K. Had some babies. Homeschooled those babies. Learned a new language. Learned to dance. Kept her kids clothed and fed on a tight budget. Worked two jobs. Went back to school. Cared for her aging parents. Healed after a debilitating illness. Big Things.
Ask her how she did it all. If she’s honest, she’ll tell you she didn’t. She’ll tell you she made choices, and those choices looked a lot more like getting the work done than chasing balance.
When I finally worked out my book math two years ago, I realized I needed to get up at 4 a.m. to make it happen. It’s a mean hour of the day, but it gave me three uninterrupted writing hours before my boys woke up. This meant I no longer ran before they woke up, which meant I no longer ran. I’m sure I could have found a way to fit it in on paper, but paper isn’t life, and the days were full. It was either run in the early morning or not at all.
And running hasn’t been the only thing to go. My List of No is long and boring and mildly depressing, particularly in the moments when I sit my once-muscular, now-squishy thighs down to write. But I’m a finite girl with 24-hour days. I can only chase so much, and to chase “balance” right now is to give way to the whispers telling me I should be more than I am – that there’s a possibility I can work like I do and not declare Tuesday as quesadilla night and Wednesday as grilled cheese night and Thursday as pizza night.
That’s a lot of cheese, girls – cheese from my choices. And I’m better at swallowing it when I remember that. I’ve made these choices. I’ve made them in good faith, and I’ll continue to make them until I get the work done.
So am I saying you have to make the same ones? No.
That you have to stop running? No.
Wake up at 4? No.
Eat cheese? No.
There are no instructions in this post. Just this thought that we’ve got these days and our choices about what to make of them. After claiming our name, we have to claim choices because behind every girl’s Big Yes is a ton of No.