Keeping My Candle Lit

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I think that the Sauer home is about to undergo some significant change.

I have hit a brick wall when it comes to my photo-editing. With my come-and-go brain fog, the encroaching depression, and Piper's constant needs and demands, my productivity has been registering pretty near zero for the last couple of months. This means that the house has been a disaster, I feel like I've been robbed of my first year with my baby, and my poor clients are still waiting to see the majority of their photos.

Every time I boot up the computer, I am overwhelmed with the pressure of what I haven't finished. Every morning, I get up determining that I will get something done. After I get our breakfast, I try to get Piper to play so that I can sit down at my computer. She rarely plays more than ten minutes at a stretch, and soon, she is climbing my knee, reaching for my computer mouse, and clamoring for my attention. By the time I succeed in distracting her again, I can't even remember what I sat down to do. I spend my days fighting her off and getting absolutely nothing done. By evening, I don't even want to see my husband, I'm so emotionally drained. If I'm lucky, I've gotten my email inbox cleaned out, and if I'm really productive, I've managed to edit about ten photos, get a blog post up, and get the bed made.

The stress has been killing me.

When I came home from work, I planned to approach the photo-processing so that I would get evenings and weekends free, like normal people who work full-time jobs. This is obviously not working. (Okay, so I'm stubborn. I tried longer than most people would to keep up this non-routine.) I didn't realize that when you work from home, the work is always there, always calling, always weighing you down unless you can take control of it.

So I'm going to attempt something new.

During the day, I'm going to spend quality time with my too-fast-growing daughter. As I can, I will do the housework that Pete has been doing when he is home to try to give me space during the day to work. I'm going to bake, rest, write, and use what free alone time I get to do things that make me come alive. I will try to have dinner ready for my husband when he comes home.

Then in the evenings, I will try editing as part of my wind-down-for-bed routine. I'm going to change my atmosphere a bit and play soft music and drink tea and share them with Pete as I go. Pete and Piper will have some quality time together, and I will be able to look forward to enjoying my work, instead of ramming my way through it. If I can get through 50 photos per evening (and if I get a little help from someone wonderful who has offered to edit!), my clients should start seeing their photos by the end of July.

I haven't even been photographing Piper because of the weight of my unfulfilled responsibility to my clients. My photography is a gift, and it requires more emotional, creative energy than I've been able to muster in recent months. I am hoping that this method will not only ease the constant frustration and crushing sense of failure I've been facing, but also give us a chance at a more well-run household.

I've had to change lifestyles before. It just hadn't occurred to me that I could now!

I've got to stop living by guilt. It's a crappy motivator, and it sucks the life out of me.

I love that God doesn't spend time beating me over the head to "do do do" in order to fix my situation or be a better Christian. Instead, He refreshes me and offers encouragement for my heart that doesn't seem related to "fixing" my situation. Yet as my heart finds deeper rest, I discover more emotional resources to meet life as it comes. With more emotional resources at my disposal, I find more physical reserve.

Here's to giving it a try, anyway!


nic said...

I can relate in a small way - and I always like hearing how I'm not alone!

While CJ has always slept through the night, he has always clamored away at me, grabbed my keyboard, pulled my hair, or whatever else he could touch while I've tried to work. By the time he was nine months old I thought I would have to quit it became so difficult! Already I was working well into the night each day and rarely had a weekend free of chores or catch up work. I find that every three months I have to completely change my schedule, rearrange my priorities, and figure out some new way to multi-task efficiently to make everything work.

By God's grace everything always works out, and just when I think I'm going to crack, I figure out an easier or quicker way to do something.

Anyhow - I know it is easier for me since I don't have any health issues, but it was nice to hear about someone else who has to try and work with a baby who wants your 100% attention!

Good for you for not sweating the small stuff and focusing on what is most important in your life!

the Joneses said...

Well, I don't have clients waiting for what I was producing (blah to that, anyway) but I do find that trying to get any real work done during the day is impossible. Daphne is a year older than Piper and she STILL clamors for my attention and grabs the mouse. Only now she accompanies it with, "Daffy play. Daffy's turn."

I did, however, have a goal of finishing a novel I've left in tatters for years. The only way I got it done was that after I put Daphne to bed, I spent an hour and a half to two hours every night writing. It meant Darren was on kid duty once I started working, and it took away time with Darren -- trust me, we HATE losing our quality time -- but I got the novel done. (As I said, too bad nobody's waiting to see it.)

I understand about neglecting photography because of the weight of unfinished business. I neglect writing the same way. I think if you manage to get in some good work in the evenings, it will free you up to enjoy your days more. And just keep in mind the wonderful freedom you'll feel when you get it all done!

(Which you will.)

-- SJ

(P.S. I sent you a note via Facebook -- just making sure you got it.)

PaperYarnGirl said...

Been there, done that, though without the health issues. It's so hard. What you've outlined is a great plan.

Get your own airmask fixed first, then start worrying about saving all the other stuff.

Kelly Sauer said...

Thank you all for your encouragement!

Nic, I envy your organizational abilities anyway - next time I'll come to you for ideas!

SJ - I'd like to read your novel, so now you have at least one person waiting for it. I answered your note via Facebook this morning. Hee hee!

nic said...

Kelly - I envy your strength! You are organizing the same way I am!

Heidi said...

Sounds like a good plan! Something I've discovered these last couple years is that if something isn't working, it's because it DOESN'T WORK - it's not because I'm a failure. If it is something that has to get done (like your pictures), there has to be another way. It sounds like you might have found it! :)

Jessica said...

Amen to what everyone else has already said! Although I haven't had health issues either, it does sound pretty familiar to some things I have felt since Lucy's been born. (She can be a pretty demanding child, too.) Starting the day overwhelmed by your to-do's and ending it beating yourself because you didn't get anything done is NO FUN!!

Most days I just have to recognize that God has only given me a certain number of hours in the day, and that (if I'm listening to Him) I will get done what HE wants me to do that day... even if it's not what *I* wanted to get done. Even if all I've accomplished by the end of the day is take care of Lucy and put some semblance of food on the table, then that may be all I really "needed" to do. (And let me say, I definitely had quite a few of those days, particularly when Lucy was littler, and during most of the first trimester of this current pregnancy.)

Anyways... as someone else said, make sure you take care of *yourself* first! I've felt selfish doing this at times, but you come to realize that if you keep pushing yourself, eventually you're just going to feel worse. Then you won't get ANYTHING done! Sometimes you have to sacrifice some of the "so important" things just to help yourself function.

Anonymous said...

Praying for you, Kelly!
Hey, we should get together sometime.
And if you ever need a break, PLEASE feel free to bring Piper over here anytime! I'd love to watch her while you get some rest or some things done, and I'm finding that I need baby fixes rather regularly. :-D Email me, or call my cell.
~Kirsten Dalton

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