If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you know I’ve been on a Quest for Less this year, with “Less” being my One Little Word for 2017.
It’s not that I don’t love and appreciate all I have. I do! And I realize it feels almost… ungrateful to want less when my life is filled with love, good people, work I enjoy, pretty possessions, and hobbies that make me happy.
The truth is, however, that having my dear Lauri Grace has tipped my scales in a major way. I had no idea how difficult it would be to go from one child to two. People had warned me, sure, but I don’t think it’s something one fully understands until it’s experienced.
WORD OF WARNING
I see my neurologist for a narcolepsy check-in once a year. The latest visit went a little something like this:
Doc: How have you been?
Me: Fine. You know, same ole, same ole.
Doc: What is your schedule like now?
Me: I usually wake up around 6 or 7 AM and work for a few hours before my children get up. I then get them ready for the day, work again at nap time, back to kiddos until my husband is home, and then back to work until midnight or later.
Doc: *wide eyed and upset
Doc: So, how many hours of sleep would you say you get a night?
Me: Probably an average of 3-6, depending on my work requirements.
Doc: Megan, I know no other way of putting this—Short sleep, short life!
Ouch! His words hit me like a ton of bricks. He looked me square in the eye with a level of seriousness I’ve never seen from him in the 11 years I’ve been seeing him. He then went on to say that it’s not a matter of if but when, as he discussed MAJOR health concerns such as heart disease and cancer. It was at that point I knew something had to give. But what?
I have been SO blessed since being unexpectedly laid off at Creating Keepsakes magazine. All of the work I do is work that has found me. And it’s all work I can do from home, on my schedule. AND it’s all FUN work that I sometimes have to pinch myself as I’m doing to see if it’s really “work.”
It started with Scrapbook & Cards Today magazine, first as a copy editor and then as the editor-in-chief! I was then asked to be a blogger/writer/photographer for Gardner Village, a local shopping center. They do so many fun things and often let me involve my sweet family and friends for free, which is SO nice! Most recently, I added writing and marketing work for Brick Canvas at Thanksgiving Point—a beautiful wellness destination owned by Shelli Gardner, who also owns Stampin’ Up!, where I got my crafting career start.
How could I possibly give any of this up? Do I get a nanny instead? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of wanting work that allows me to be home with my children?
I love my career. I’ve worked HARD for my career for years! I love my children. I worked HARD to have my children. (Making Lulu nearly killed me.) Being an older mother who has chosen to focus on career first leads to a difficult fork in the road. A tough decision inevitably has to be made. Do I:
1. Quit my work and focus on being a mom?
2. Continue to work and find childcare options?
3. Find employment I can do from home so I can also raise my children?
For me, three seemed the ideal option. I’m sure many would agree. But I soon learned it wasn’t always easy. I’m an extreme extrovert. I love people. I NEED interaction and brainstorming and collaboration. I’m also quick to succumb to guilt. I’ll be feeding my babies and thinking about how I should be working. Or I’ll be working while Lulu is crying from her crib for 30 minutes and Maggie is begging me to play with her. “Just five more minutes.” became a term I was using FAR too often at home. Followed by “Sorry I’m late in responding,” being the lead to far too many work emails. It was killing me. And I was losing my sense of direction and purpose. I wanted to be a strong, valuable contributor to a team. Or, in my case, several teams. But I obviously had my first calling and purpose sitting right in front of my face in the form of two gorgeous sets of fresh, expectant eyes. And I’m sure anyone can understand why my heart was drawn to those eyes in every way. I wanted to work, but I NEEDED to mother. My babies are my soul, and I don’t want to miss a thing!
THE QUEST CONTINUES
It was time to face reality and accept the fact that I’m not Superwoman and can not do it all. If I truly want the quality of my life to improve, I have to realize when I’ve maxed out and make the difficult decision to adjust for LESS. That’s when I called Catherine.
Catherine came to me just as I hit a low point in my career. It was the CHA following my CK position ending. I was asked to go to do freelance work for My Craft Channel. Feeling blue (and embarrassed!) about my 8-year job ending, I didn’t want to go to this show, but Kristine’s offer was generous and I love on-camera work, so I went. And boy am I glad that I did. It opened a few big doors for me, including introducing me to Catherine. It started with a simple “How would you like to do a blog post for me, reporting on what you’ve seen at CHA?” And that lead to “How would you like to be my copy editor?” And that ultimately lead to the EIC position. I was back in my element, doing magazine work I loved—a job where I could craft and also write about crafting. A job where I could work with amazing companies I’ve watched grow over the years. A job where I could support tremendously talented crafters and collaborate with the extremely gifted Cathy Zielske and Brandy Jesperson again. It felt like home!
As much as I love publishing and all of the wonderful benefits of working for a gorgeous crafting magazine, I slowly started to realize the position needed more than I was able to give. Between two autoimmune illness, two growing babies, and two aging parents, I was feeling so stretched and felt the impact it was having all around—both on my family/home and on my magazine family. It wasn’t fair to anyone involved. Soooo… I had to make that difficult phone call to Catherine, letting her know I was throwing in the towel. :( She, of course, understood. Being a mom of two herself and one who has also had to walk away from work in the past so she could raise her babes, she supported me and quickly went into transition mode. But not before offering me options. She suggested a hybrid position, where I could do some of my job and share some of it with another. I thought that was SO nice! It’s not every day you find someone who will make that kind of offer! In the end, however, I felt it would still be too much. But the idea of leaving the magazine fully didn’t feel right either. That’s when we discussed my having a column. Coincidentally, I had just wrapped our “Pic Tips” column for our Spring ’17 issue. The plan wasn’t for me to write it indefinitely. I had just stepped in as a guest columnist on this one. But I loved working on it. It’s a topic I’m passionate about and one I could teach on for days and days. So it was a natural transition, and I’m proud to now be the column’s full-time owner!!
I’m also proud to welcome Susan Opel to the seat of EIC. Our careers have been oddly paralleled over the years. When I left my position at Paper Crafts magazine to work for Simple Scrapbooks magazine, she was hired to replace me. And we’re two of the few from the CK empire of magazines who’ve remained actively involved in the crafting industry since departing our editorial positions when their magazines ceased. So when I thought about stepping down at SCT, she seemed an obvious choice. I was thrilled when Catherine interviewed her and ended up giving her the job. I think she is everything the position needs. She’s highly organized, she’s creative, she’s gifted in writing and editing, and she’s tremendously upbeat. She’ll be the cheerleader Catherine and the SCT team deserve! And she couldn’t be happier to have landed where she has, which is all the better.
As hard as it was to accept defeat and step down, I do so feeling SO confident and happy. I’m confident the magazine is in good hands, and I’m happy that I’ve already felt a tremendous shift in my work/life balance. I play with Maggie every day. Sure, that seems a small enough thing, but it isn’t. It’s huge! And we’re loving it. I’m cleaning my house and further pursuing my Quest for Less with a massive home clean-out/purge, which is about 10 years overdue. I even managed to prepare some meals. You’ll notice I said “prepare,” as a stove was in no way involved. I’ll work up to that. (BTW, who knew salads were so HARD to make?! Wow! I’ve got my work cut out for me!) ;)
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR WORK
I will keep my positions at Gardner Village and Brick Canvas. They’re smaller jobs that require far less of my time. Financially, SCT was the bulk of my income, so there is a noticeable and scary gap there, but, you know what? It’s okay. I feel oddly at peace in that regard. I know some of the money will come in through new freelance opportunities that require less time (it already has some, which is a blessing!), and if it doesn’t for whatever reason, we will be okay. I don’t know why I’m so sure of this, but I am, which has been the greatest comfort.
While all feels right with the world, I do have one big regret. I wish I would have said a more proper goodbye to the SCT readers. I was going to do so in my editor’s note for our Spring issue, but there were reasons why that didn’t seem the best decision. In the chance you happen upon this post, my friends, please know how much I’ve loved being a part of your lives over the years. You’re a kind, loving community, and you’ve done so much to make me feel right at home and supported. Thank you for that. I’m glad we’ll still connect through my “Pic Tips” column. Remaining a member of the SCT team in this way is a wonderful treat! It means I don’t have to say goodbye. Instead, I’ll see you soon!
I realize I’ve shared FAR more than you likely care to know—1,872 words and climbing, to be exact. Good grief! I guess this post is as much for me as it is for anyone else. It’s a way of achieving some closure. I now officially pass the baton to Susan. Together with Brandy Jesperson, Cathy Zielske, and Catherine Tachdjian, I know she’ll do awesome things! Thanks to each of you for making this one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I told Cory, it’s the first time I’ve actively decided to leave a job without another one to go to, which is terrifying. But I now realize that isn’t entirely true. I leave it to go to my most important job of all—the job of mom, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Thank you for supporting me so completely! That goes to the full SCT team. Your kindness has made a hard thing a bit easier. I adore you for that!
A second thanks to Catherine for making all of this possible in the first place. You picked me up and dusted me off when I was at a low point in my career. You’ve supported me and extended friendship and kindness even to my family (Cafwin, the chocolate lady! LOL). You have so many ideas and will continue to take SCT far. We can’t wait to see what happens next!
And now… here’s to continuing on my Quest for Less. I still have much work to do and hard decisions yet to be made, but I’m proud of myself for accepting my limits (not the least bit easy!) and doing what I can to make my situation better. I suppose that’s all we can do in life, right? After all, we get one chance to do things right. That’s a big deal and not something to be taken lightly.
Love & light to you, sweet friends!