I received some amazing e-mails a couple of days ago in response to my “Overwhelmed” post. Women wanted to share their stories with me and while all of the stories are different, the idea was the same. They were churning through life and finally got tired of it. (I shared my own tired-of-churning experience in my post about losing & finding myself.)
One e-mail that stood out to me was from Amy of AttaGirlSays. In that e-mail she shared with me the moment when she realized she was just churning through her life and decided to write a manifesto. I immediately thought of the moment in Jerry Maguire where he stayed up all night and wrote that huge memo that got him fired, but changed his life. I’m not suggesting everyone flip out and steal the office goldfish, but I think it’s an awesome idea to take stock of your life, put pen to paper and write about what inspires you and who you want to be. (Like the Switchfoot song says, “This is your life. Are you who you want to be?”)
Here’s Amy’s manifesto…
“I have a vision for my life, but I’m not really living it. I’m so overwhelmed with work lately and not really enjoying it as I once did. Things that should excite me – getting a client featured in House Beautiful or on the Nate Berkus show – don’t. Blah. So what! I’m tired of mile-long to-do lists and never feeling finished. I’m tired of feeling that my family is keeping me from my work, when really it is the other way around.
I’m not sure I’m completely ready to let go of my old life or to quit my job. To do so would mean giving up half of our household income. I know you’ve each done that, but it’s scary for me, and I don’t know how manageable/feasible it is.
But I need to do something to shift my priorities and efforts – to find a way to contribute to the family financially that also enriches me personally and creatively and doesn’t zap so much of my time and energy.
So, what is my vision for myself?
I can honestly say I am lucky to be living in my dream house, but I’m not enjoying it the way I’d hope. It is hard to maintain and to create the atmosphere here I envisioned when I’m so busy with work responsibilities. I’m finding I cannot tend to them in the 9-1 hours when Jackson is in school, and I doubt it will be any different next year when he is in real school, 5 days a week. There still won’t be enough time.
I dream of being able to wear sweats and comfy clothes more often. Of being able to attend to household chores in a planned and organized manner, not as an afterthought. I want time to devote to creative pursuits that I enjoy during daytime hours, not at midnight. I want to be able to play and read and be with Jackson in the afternoons without feeling that something is hanging over me. I want time to plan and cook dinner. I don’t want to crash every night exhausted, yet still feeling like there is still so much yet to do. I don’t want this constant feeling that I’m disappointing someone, not fulfilling my obligations or this constant barrage of deadlines. I’m tired of feeling “bothered” every time the phone rings or I get an email. What is it now that someone needs from me? That I feel that way in so many areas of life tells me I’m not enjoying my job or being fulfilled by it. But being dragged down by it.
I want to wake up every morning rested and excited about what the world has in store for me. I want to create things of beauty.
I have always enjoyed crafting, and I’m finally beginning to realize and appreciate my own skill in it. And those of the people around me. The things we can do, others can’t. And that’s something to be proud of. There are still some who would look at what we create/make and say, “They obviously have too much time on their hands.” But there are so many more who appreciate our talents and value them. It’s time we start doing the same.
I want time to breathe. I want to make things. But I can’t keep everything I make, nor do I want to. I want to contribute to our family’s financial well-being (though maybe not in the way I currently am). I want to build a brand. I want to follow my bliss. I want ownership of something and pride in something. I want to look back on my life and realize I lived it on my own terms, and that I enjoyed it….”
Inspiring, right? And now she’s doing it. She’s making changes in her life to fulfill the vision she has for it. Awesome stuff.
Now, writing a manifesto doesn’t mean you ditch your family or leave everyone in your life in the dust, so YOU can do everything YOU want to do. (Well, maybe you need to leave some people in the dust if they’re people who aren’t good for you, but you know what I mean.) It doesn’t mean your routine life of carpooling to soccer games, washing slipcovers and cooking dinner can’t fit into your dreams. Your manifesto may be about being a better mom or serving others more or being healthy. It may be about building brand that’s sold in Target or singing on Broadway or writing for a magazine. The point is, it’s your manifesto and it can be whatever you envision for your life and it can be done in balance with all of the other important people and things in your life.
So, I want to leave you with a challenge to write your own manifesto. And, here’s the scary part, share it with someone else. Share it with your husband, your best friend, your blog readers, me, Amy, whoever, all of the above. Just share it with at least one person who will encourage you and tell you that your dreams, no matter how big or small, aren’t silly or something you need to stuff down inside until you burst. It’s something you can work towards one step at a time.
It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut in life. Let’s not do that. Let’s go for it…knowing not every door will be opened and we may hear some (or a lot) of “no’s”, but we’ll keep going for it, because the joy is in the journey, not just the destination.
If you do want to share your manifesto with me, you can e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org (and I will read it and probably cry and maybe ask to share it on my blog!) Thanks to Amy for being inspiring and for letting me share this publicly.