Monday, July 20, 2009

Stressing Out and Calming Down

I said I'd start small. Focused. A little project. I'd still be home to cook a nice lunch for my European husband who deeply appreciates such things. I'd pop up a Web site or two, you know, just to keep my hand in.

And then it got bigger fast. Now, just a handful of months in, I have busy employees. I'm riffling through contracts. I'm chasing deadlines. I'm balancing books, and they don't balance enough yet. I'm grabbing a sandwich for lunch when I remember, and barely getting dinner on the table by 8pm. Not to mention considering working weekends. Now that the sun has finally come out. Now that we're in the only two-three months of the year with any weather worth being outside in.

I forced myself to relax all weekend. To do a little housework, a little cooking, a little weeding, and a lot of lying around on a hammock with a Peroni.

I realized I was getting all stressed out for really no good reason. Mostly, in fact, from habit. Creating another, albeit far tinier, version of the situation that made me want to retire early in the first place. Dumb. Life patterns are magnetic to us no matter how much we want to avoid them.

Should I wind things down and quit entirely? I wondered. Then, I picked up my mystery novel. There on the first page was a quote from good old Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor who knew what real work stress was like. He wrote, "Give your heart to the trade you have learnt, and draw refreshment from it..."

He's right. I truly do love my trade. The trade I spent nearly 25 years living and learning. If I set it aside completely, I'll set aside a wellspring of joy and contentment.

I just have to learn to live with it in a calm sort of way. Calm publishing, calm marketing. Gotta be a way to do that, and cook lunch too.

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