Friday, February 18, 2011

Homus Interuptus

I love working from home.
I love it because i have small children, and it means i can fulfil my role as a mother and a musician simultaneously. Yes, it does mean a lot of juggling, some rule-setting (for the kids AND for me), and i've had to organise a dedicated space from which to work, but i like it! What i don't like are interruptions...not from the kids (because that's just the way things are with young children), but from people who don't seem to understand that you WORK from home.

The time that i can actually dedicate to working is very precious, as it's been negotiated through the maze of  motherly commitments, timetables, cooking, cleaning, clients, see, dedicated work time is often literally a case of QUICK! i can probably do an hours' work now that the kids are settled into some playtime, and there's a slim possibility they may just stay occupied during this window. Yes, i put motherhood before all else, so "time" is a complicated thing.

But some people like to just call past and "drop in" when i'm in the middle of something. This is very inconvenient, particularly when i'm recording, or in the middle of a difficult edit. Every artist knows that creativity itself can be a fragile thing, and there are many times when i have to cram my artistry into a few minutes. It's not that i don't want to see people, but i do think it's highly unlikely that a friend would just drop in to see me for a chat if i worked in an office for someone else. But because i'm "at home" i have a target on my back?

So i have made some rules, and set some boundaries. Firstly, if i don't want to be interrupted, i just wont answer the door. This has literally taken me years to feel ok about it. Sometimes, when i hear that knock or that doorbell, i feel like someone is DEMANDING i drop everything and act RIGHT NOW! I also remind my friends to call me before they visit. Some need a LOT of reminding. The children also now understand that just because someone's at the door, doesn't mean it's going to be answered. Boundaries are important. They help things run a little smoother.

So, if you're like me, trying to keep lots of balls in the air, let yourself off the hook. And if you have friends who are working like me, just pick up the phone before you hop in the car.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

You Have A Choice

When it comes to our communities, one of the most biggest concerns i have, is that people generally seem to think they don't have a choice. They feel trapped in by circumstances. They feel they can't make the changes in their life because life makes it impossible. "I CAN'T do my art because i have to work to get an income", "I HAVE NO CHOICE but to put my child in childcare, even though at the end of the day i'm only $50 better off", "I CAN'T be successful, because no-one will give me any opportunities". These are very real beliefs, with real feelings attached, and real people suffering as a result. So, are the right? Do we really have a choice?

I heard a great talk recently about work/life balance by Nigel Marsh on TED . It points out the obvious, that many people work long hours in jobs they hate to have money to buy things they don't need, to impress people they don't like. Sounds crazy, and it is, yet so many peeps find themselves in this lifestyle. Imagine if we could do things we are really good at, get paid for it, and spend more time with family and friends? Is it possible? it certainly used to be. In fact, only decades ago, a shoemaker HAD to be very good and passionate in their work in order to make a living in a small community. Carpenters needed to make things well and take pride in their work, otherwise houses would fall down, furniture would break, and he would fast run out of business. So what's changed?

Today we're surrounded by lies. These days, many businesses are concerned with covering their arse, because someone may sue them for doing a dodgy job. It's often about people trying to con their way "up the corporate ladder" to get more money to buy more expensive stuff (yes, i'm cynical, i know). It's about women leaving their babies with strangers so they can go back to work, so they can afford to put fuel in their guzzling 4WDs (SUV's) that they bought on credit for very odd reasons. And it's all based on the lie that THIS is success. More money = a better life. Try telling that to the kid, who never sees his dad because he works 6 days a week, always comes home after bedtime, and is grumpy on his day off because he is so wrecked from his job that at home he lives on a knife-edge. Try telling that to the daughter who wont learn to cook, because her working mother is so exhausted, she can only prepare pre-made dinners. Try telling that to the toddler who gets so used to having to trust everyone as she's bundled about, that she'll happily follow a stranger just because they smiled at her.

I can hear the angry mob brewing. Perhaps it's hard to take because it's true. It's hard to hear it, because most of them believe that life HAS to be this way. No choice = no change. People grow up thinking it's normal to hate their job, despise work, get frustrated with their relationship, and have no time for their family. But there are ways. No-one can change it for you. There is no wonder-plan, but if you are real enough about making some serious changes, then you can.

The most important thing about being able to change, is believing you can be empowered enough to do it. Once this idea becomes a BELIEF, you will automatically make choices which reflect that belief. It might start off small, by negotiating one day a week off, for you to spend some quality time pursuing something you love. Happier people work better, have better health, a better to live with, make batter parents, which in turn make better children. Happiness breeds happiness.

If you'd rather be doing something else, shouldn't you do something about it? And if you're not going to do anything about it, you'd be much better off starting to get happy about being where you are.