Monday, April 29, 2013

The Balancing Act

Last night, after I sent off another bunch of recipes and photos, I had a little pinch-me moment. I'm actually earning money doing something I love. I sat down on the couch to finish off a hat I'd begun earlier that day and it hit me again - I'm creating a business, albeit a tiny-incy-micro one, doing something I adore.

And this was all at the end of a week in which I returned to my day job after a nice little long-service sabbatical. (Oh, boy, didn't that fly!) And there it was again. I've long held a notion that I'd like to live my life with a variety of 'jobs', using different skills and surviving on a multiple stream of income, rather than throwing all my energies into climbing a single career ladder. These are early days, and nothing's in stone yet, but it's starting to come true.

But there's a side effect when something you love becomes something you do for work. For as much as I am loving cooking and knitting, taking photos, and knitting some more, a part of me has lost the love for it all. I can't remember when I last wandered into the kitchen to bake something just because. Now it's all, "Could this become a recipe? Should I write it down and photograph it just in case? How could I adapt this to make it more family friendly?" I walked past my cookbook collection the other day and it was like I had just noticed it was there. Oh, that's right, there are books!!!! That I can cook from!!! Just because!!!

As for knitting, this time last year I was whipping up hats and cardigans and jumpers and leg warmers for my babies and my friends and my friends' babies.  Good grief, I think I may have even knitted something for myself! There was a time not so long ago that if you knew me and you had recently given birth, a handknit would arrive wrapped and ready to wear. My Ravelry page was being updated on a fortnightly basis, it seemed, with new projects! This year that's just a fantasy - even my own girls are wearing Target hoodies, poor deprived little urchins, because every waking knitting moment is taken up with the hats. THE HATS!!!!!

Oh, my goodness, my own children don't even have hats for this winter...

The eternal balancing act. I'm not talking about the work/life juggle - I gave up on that one a long time ago. I'm talking about the serious/fun balance. The because-I-have-to/just-because balance. 

So tell me, when a hobby becomes work, admittedly wonderful, delightful, oh-so-grateful-for work, how do you keep the love alive? And where do you squeeze in time for the just-because?


  1. Oh I hear you. Eamon rarely wears the clothes I make, yet he was the reason I started all this. I would also like to have a multi-stream income rather than having to return to full time teaching yet. Supply, yoga and sewing would suit me fine at the moment.

    Hope you find your balance and 'mojo' again soon.


  2. I too like having a few different jobs...although at the moment I suppose I really only have one job and then another hobby which hopefully will be earning me some money soon!
    As for just because...I suppose I get enough of those moments with Toddler walking to the caef just because or staying in our pjs all day just because. They aren't creative just because moments but they are enough.

  3. I have no idea!
    I guess the positive thing about organic farming is that there is always something different going on.
    No two days are ever the same.
    But after 12 years, I'm even questioning this.
    What else can we do here? How can we make it more fun?
    I hope you do find some sort of balance. I hope you feel creative and inspired.
    I think you are pretty wonderful. x

  4. I wrote a very similar post on Friday. It's so hard to find balance between it all. If you work it out let me know! xo

  5. You have taken the words out of my head Greer. I have been really struggling with the 'have-to' side of running a handmade business and asking myself whether it's worth continuing? At the moment I have not much enjoyed sewing to sell so have been distracting myself with other crafty activities. Please do share if you find that elusive serious/fun balance.


  6. Keep your eyes on the goal at the end and it makes it a tad sweeter. As for the just-because, I'm slowly making more time for me, doing things that are just for me, not for work, not for the blog, not for my family, but just me. I'm realising how important it is to nurture myself (I'm still not very good at it), but hopefully as I do get better the just-because will take care of itself.

  7. Oh Greer... We're all feeling it! I spent an entire week sewing Mother's Day goodies for my sisters florist that I'm happy not to touch my machine for a while. Yet all of the lovely little items I wanted to sew for Sunny this week is still sitting there, by the meter, not yet cut up! Like all these other lovely ladies I don't know the answer and I'm well aware that my daughter's challenging behaviour as of late has been because she craves the attention. She needs her mama to be with her not glued to a sewing machine in her spare time! I know this is of no help to you but know that you are not alone....

    Sophie xo

  8. It's an interesting dilemma isn't it. I went to the Big Hearted Business conference last month, and something I took away from one of the talks was looking at the way you build structure into your working week. For example: set aside 2 days as Preparation days, where you deal with emails/work on your online stuff/deal with suppliers & customers etc. Then 2 days as Successful days; where you create/make/do the work that you do. And one day is an Inspiration day, which could mean doing things like cooking, knitting for fun, doing nothing at all, sitting in a cafe and watching the world go by for a few hours - whatever you like. I think its a wonderful idea to help give you that balance and structure, so the passion is fuelled and your work ultimately becomes better for it. Co-incidentally, I'm at the point that you were when we met, I'm considering a big leap of faith and following a completely different career path. You are a source of inspiration Greer. You're doing it! B xx

  9. you're not alone. I struggle a bit with the deadlines - before I used to be able to take photos and edit whenever I pleased, as long as it took, but now, I have people replying on me and they have PAID me to meet a deadline, for a little disc to appear in their letterbox by a certain date.. some nights when all I want to do is flake out on the couch, I need to sit at the computer and answer emails, edit, plan, research, plug myself on social media.. I'm still getting used to it all and I always remind myself that I chose this. And even on the hard days, I love it - the taking photos. I don't love all of the things that go with it, the background stuff, but I think it's just because I've never done it for myself before and it's still so new. we're all just trying to do our best - make the best lives we can - to LIVE and not just exist. that's what is so inspiring about your story and so many others who take that leap into the unknown, to try something new, to turn that hobby into a proper job, to be strong enough to say they want MORE - from this one precious life - not more STUFF. I don't think there is ever a happy medium. The ebb and flow of daily life and responsibility forbids it as a constant, moving like the tide - appearing and disappearing. It was certainly easier to find it before the kids arrived.. but then where's the fun in that? the chaos is way better :) x

  10. I know what you mean! It's so hard to balance something we love doing when we also HAVE to do it! Good luck, dear!

  11. Oh, I don't know! I don't think anyone has those answers. It's all ebb and flow. Just remember why you wanted to knit the hats in the first place - are you happier now than you were this time last year, or the year before? I'll be returning to work soon and I'll be looking here for work/life balance inspiration Greer so, you know, no pressure... ;-) x

  12. ooo yep i get every word of that and i have no answers!

  13. It is very hard to deal with doing something you love as a source of income, for 2 years I worked at custom made curtains, and lost my love of sewing for a few years after that, just recently I spent 10 years as a private Nanny and it has taken more than a year for me to REALLY enjoy being with my own grandchildren.
    It is a balancing act and it is quite personal, how much "work" you do before it looses the enjoyment......good luck with trying to sort it out.

  14. I started a new job yesterday, and I had the reverse to your pinch me moment last night .... Kellie xx

  15. I've been doing the multi stream income thing since I left university, in paid jobs and self employed. Once you establish those streams it does get easier to keep it fresh. Keep plugging away at it Greer, you've come so far, I have every faith you'll get to where you want to be :)

  16. You're so talented Greer and are seriously living a lot of people's dream being able to turn your many hobbies into multi income streams with all that talent you possess. Maybe you could find a new hobby with no money-making strings attached just for your own pleasure (you know, in all that spare time you have!). I like the model you came up with in the following post. I would actually dearly love to work and produce something of a small income and need to think of something over the next few months but I seriously don't know what to do that would fit in with our family right now.....ho hum. Keep us posted on any insights or solution you come up with x


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