Yesterday the 30 odd people – sorry, that’s not intended as an insult! I mean the 32 lovely, encouraging, sensible people – who subscribe to this blog by email will have received notification of a new post, ‘During working hours’. It was blank. Sorry – I clicked the wrong button! In an attempt to take a step in the right direction I had chosen a title and categories and was meaning to quickly save them – but published instead. Come to think of it it was quite a telling act: it tells you that my working hours have contained NO work! I am still battling with how to make that happen.
What is my current definition of work? All my adult life – since I gave up the nursing ‘day job’ on marrying an upwardly and geographically mobile doctor (but don’t mention the nervous breakdown at the same time…) I have had a ‘working identity’ crisis. Like many ‘self-employed’ homemakers I’ve learned to dread the dinner party question, ‘So, what do you do?’ and must have spent hours rehearsing answers that don’t contain the word ‘housewife’. We non-salaried spouses usually feel we have to make excuses – especially when the children have grown up and childcare is clearly no longer the major physical requirement.
I have varied my answers over the years – ‘ex-nurse’ or ‘doctor’s wife’ – or more euphemistically, ‘personal assistant’ 😉 More recently I have even been able to lay claim to ‘part-time company secretary’ because of our little limited venture Dyer Straight Consulting (LOL! as they say). I’ve used that one sometimes when applying for insurance… it feels great, but when they use it as a security question the following year I’ve forgotten that’s what I said! ‘Church work’ was one I tried for a while but to my horror Martin would then tell colleagues I am a ‘Christian mullah’ and they “should hear me preach” – it certainly stopped a few highbrow conversations! One man turned away when I joked I was a kind of ‘travelling vicar’ and another responded to “I work with churches” with “do you repair the bricks and mortar?” (“No, more the software than the hardware”…) Anyway, apart from some generous ministry gifts to be declared on the tax return – on top of my ‘company secretary’s salary’ of course (technical term) – these were voluntary roles. Yes, they were ‘work’, but a lot of it was unpaid and not really a ‘job’ in the sense of 9-5 and having a boss and a salary. I certainly had a ‘calling’ – I started my own ‘ministry’, I sought to serve and use my gifts – and Martin willingly paid my way and didn’t mind too much as long as there were clean pants and dinner to come home to.
I know I am so fortunate not to have to ‘go out to work’. As I said recently my varied non-career is more 9-9 than 9-5 – but hey, the chores have to be done and Martin really does work all day every day. In support of him and the salary he earns for both of us I have learned to balance my different roles and am now a lot more confident about explaining the multi-faceted life I live – and I really do love it 🙂 I can keep my own hours, make my own goals, take my own days off.
But now here is a new challenge – along with the cheek of calling myself a ‘writer’ I am planning to step up to claim ‘author’: I’ve realised it will be a lot of work and I’m daunted before I start… in fact, HOW does anyone DO IT? Last time I had a ‘project’ I stopped blogging here and simply focussed my writing time on Mercy Cry, but this time it is not so clear. Having spent a long time battling and debating I realise I still need the flow of life that the spontaneous expression of blogging provides: just like a hydro-electric dam, the flow creates energy. If I really want to set additional time aside to tackle a different sort of writing something is going to have to give!
Surely I have the time – so what’s the problem?! Despite putting it in my diary to begin having ‘working days’ once my birthday was over – perhaps 9am – 1pm 3 days a week to sit in front of the screen – the first 2 days have gone by and I haven’t begun: I’m frustrated with myself – not the best place to start anything from! Do I really want to do this – or are my expectations of how to achieve it unrealistic… or a bit of both?! It seems a good next step but I’m a bit scared, I want to push for it but I also don’t!
This morning the builders arrived at 8.20am: they certainly have working hours. They do have quite a lot of tea-breaks to fuel the heavy manual labour – fair enough – but they are here all day and the work is going forward. Dictionary definition of work: ‘activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result’. Yes, I can see that and the result will be a fabulous new bathroom – but at the moment it looks and feels like a great big mess!
Paul and Tony are working with a goal in mind, persevering with a vision – they also get up early to make the most of the day… ah, it seems there are things I can learn here! 😉 If people perish without vision (Proverbs 29v18) then keeping fixed on the destination must be life-giving. Work is by definition an activity and an effort, so if I choose to do this there will be cost and consequences – and if I choose not to… likewise. There has to be balance between work, rest and play and it’s not healthy to be driven by ‘ought to’s’ and ‘shoulds’ – but only those who sow will reap!
Discipline only works if the plans made in advance dictate my choices when contrary feelings or distractions say, ‘Do this instead’. But instead of actually changing direction I continue to put it off while the arguments in my head circle round and round – and, unless you are a writer too, what is more irritating than a writer who writes about writing?
So, I may have to write this week off (pun intended) and re-evaluate the plan… and I think I had better just check back with the Boss-boss, the One who knows how to create things and cause His purposes to come to birth, the One who doesn’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on us but shows us how He does it, freely and lightly (Matthew 11v28-30, Message version) Amazing how Jesus seems to be the answer to everything we face… I’d better just stop being disappointed in myself and worrying over it and let Him tell me what to do one day at a time – just as He said (Matthew 6v34).
Come to think of it, it was a bit daft to decide to start writing a book at the same time as having a new bathroom put in!