Monday, August 31, 2015

A Day in My Life

It’s just before 4am today when my feet hit the carpet.  Not that I set an alarm for that early, but our three dogs have whined loud enough for me to hear on the other side of the house.  They make their usual leap to the water bowl (this water tank style means no refilling in the middle of the night!) and then scurry outside through the dog door before running back in and crashing on the couch.  These dogs know I’m too tired to fight with them, so I let them stay on the comfy couch where they quickly fall back asleep. 
New couch + Dogs = Blankets on the couch
New couch + Dogs = Blankets on the couch
As I crawl back into my warm bed, I have a rule for myself that I can’t look at my phone.  One quick glance at that bright screen, then I'm wide awake for the day.  Guess what rule I broke?  
I read the emails that came in overnight, first my day job, then for Kidsperts, then for my photography business; flagging emails I need to respond to, and getting rid of the junk. I save my personal email for last; my two favorite personal emails each day are a daily news update from Need 2 Know (headlines with links to articles and the occasional joke) and Now I Know, featuring interesting stories every day.  I read through a few comments on a recent photo I posted to Facebook for my photography businessand started adding items to my phone’s to do list.  I’m a list maker; personal tasks and errands go on my phone, but my work and Kidspert tasks go into a notebook.  I've mentioned my love of Arc notebooks from Staples before; the pages easily move around and are super customizable, I've even got Ashlen hooked now. Surely I’m not the only one who enjoys the feeling of crossing items off that to do list…
At 5:15, my husband’s alarm starts going off.  We’re both the type of people who hit snooze two or three times before getting up and today is no exception.  Eventually he hops out of bed to get showered and ready for work.  He works long days and I always admire how he balances his non-traditional work schedule (12 hour days) plus everything he gets done around our home.  Seriously, the place would be in shambles without him.  Shortly after he gets up, I realize that there’s no way I’m going back to sleep now, so I get up and head to the dining room where I’ll work today.  After taking Thursday and Friday off to visit my grandma out of state, there are plenty of emails to go through.  My day job offers a lot of flexibility;  I have an awesome boss who works from home and an awesome client in Atlanta who trusts my ability to deliver results regardless where I sit.  I have a cubicle in our local office where I work a couple days a week, but today I’m working from the comfort of my yoga pants and hoodie.
After answering a couple more work emails and glancing at my meeting schedule for today, my husband is out the door and it’s time for me to wake up the Bonus Daughter.  At 15, she is super self-sufficient in the mornings, so I knock on her door and she gets up and gets herself ready for school.  Some days, I’ll even go back to bed (sometimes to sleep, sometimes to read emails) until she’s ready to go.  After a breakfast of yogurt and mapping out our afternoon schedule, we leave at 7:30 to drop her off at school. 
A few years ago, they built a Starbucks at the main intersection near her school; thankfully it wasn't around when I went there.  Most days the parking lot at that strip mall is a zoo, but today the heavens opened up and there wasn’t a line for the drive through.  Clearly, this was a sign that I’d need caffeine today, so I picked up a trienta cold brew coffee.  Yep, 30 oz of the good stuff would (hopefully) keep me going today.  As I walk in the door, the dogs barely raised their heads off the couch to acknowledge my return.  Back to my makeshift desk at the dining room table; I have a real desk downstairs, but it is also real messy.  I’ve been editing a ton of photos lately (4 weddings in 5 weeks, plus senior and family portraits), and I find it’s hard to work 8 hours for my day job at the same seat I’ll work four or five hours at night editing photos.  
What you don’t see in this photo is the pile of mail, camera equipment and a target bag, just out of sight.
What you don’t see in this photo is the pile of mail, camera equipment and a target bag, just out of sight.
Today is a fairly light day at work; my morning only had two meetings plus some time blocked to work on a project.  But my afternoon has five meetings to keep me busy.  Maybe you’ve heard me mention my day job as a consultant before, but you’re probably wondering, “What in the heck does she do, other than attend meetings?”  Some days, I wonder the same thing!  In reality, my job title is Performance Consultant; I work on strategic learning initiatives, supporting an organization of about 600 professionals.  That dumb compliance training your manager made you attend?  There’s a good chance that someone like me helped develop, schedule, deliver, facilitate, and/or report on that training.  You’re probably thinking, “Well, that sounds dull.” and you’d be wrong!  I actually have a really fun and exciting job that allows me to be a flexible resource to my client and it entails some fun projects.  And some spreadsheets.  Okay, lots of spreadsheets.
Back to my day… Around noon, I’ve just finished my coffee and decide to heat up some left overs for lunch.  The dogs hear the refrigerator open and decide it would be a good time to get off the couch for the first time today.  While my lunch heats up, I feed them and send a few text messages for a program I volunteer for.  The woman I’m assigned replies back and we set up a time to meet later in the week and I quickly add it to my calendar.  I live out of my calendar and would be completely lost without it.  Well, no so much lost, but more like “have everyone pissed off at me because I forgot we had plans.”  As I added that meeting to my calendar, I see I have a consultation this evening with a couple regarding their wedding photography, and shoot them a text message reminder for our appointment here at my house.  Then I eye the junk on the table and make a mental note to clean up before they arrive at 6:30 and then run downstairs to swap a load of laundry.
Back to the dining room and the dogs return to the couch, this time looking out the window and barking at anyone walking by, including their enemy, the Mail Lady.  UPS stops by, but our canine alert system means that he doesn’t even make it to the door and I greet him in the driveway to sign for whatever we’ve ordered from Amazon or photos for my clients.  It seems like UPS or FedEx are here at least three times a week.
We recently purchased a new sectional/dog bed, clearly they love it.
We recently purchased a new sectional/dog bed, clearly they love it.
During my 2:30 meeting, my computer chimes at 2:45 reminding me to pick up the Bonus Daughter from school.  I’m grateful that my flexible work schedule means that I can block off 30 minutes on Mondays to collect her and get home.  Tuesdays she has a school club commitment until five and her dad is able to pick her up Wednesdays through Fridays.  Occasionally, I have to be on a call when I pick her up, but she handles it like a pro, getting in the car quietly and patiently waits for the call to wrap up.
Back home, the Bonus Daughter changes out of her uniform while I get back to work.  She snuggles up with the dogs to play on the Playstation or marathon her favorite shows from Hulu and Netflix.  While she has a TV in her room, I love how she spends most of her time in our home’s common space.  Around 4:30, I hit send on my last email for the day and log off from the work network. 
I head downstairs to my real desk and send a few emails for my photography business; prospective client inquiries, appointment confirmations, gallery reminders, receipts for print orders, etc.  Since I’m caught up on editing, I decide to head upstairs to clean up the dining room and kitchen.  Bonus daughter helps me unload and load the dishwasher and I do my best to make sure our house doesn’t look like a pack of wild monkeys lives here.  Usually, I’d begin cooking something for dinner (I cook three nights a week, the husband takes care of the rest), but with clients coming at 6:30, him getting home around 7, I’m using it as an excuse to go out for dinner.  Nine times out of ten, that means we’ll be hitting up our favorite: El Rodeo. 
The adorable couple comes over and we firm up their wedding plans and sign contracts.  I’ve known the bride for about fourteen years and I can’t believe she’s getting married next summer!  They walk out the door as my husband pulls in the driveway and the three of us are headed to El Rodeo within about twenty minutes.  We chat about our day as we munch on chips, salsa and queso dip.  When we get home, I’ve got a couple quick edits to make; a client emailed me while we were at dinner, requesting a couple of images be converted to black and white and I quickly oblige and upload them to her gallery. 
I return upstairs and we make the most of a little family time before I head over to Ashlen’s to work on Kidspert stuff.  We try to meet at least once per week after her kids are in bed, usually from 9-11pm. Planning upcoming posts, working on the fall activity guide and the Expressing Motherhood show are all topics of conversation tonight.  At 11 on the dot, it’s time for me to pack up my laptop and head home.  I get home to a quiet house, everyone is asleep, including the dogs, as I tip toe into bed.  After setting my alarm for six the next morning, it’s no surprise that I was out cold.  That is until the dogs wake me the next morning…
As I reflect back on this average day, I know it seems like I'm crazy busy.  But the reality is that we all have things that fill our schedules from the moment we wake up until we crash at the end of the day.  Whether it is chasing kids (your own or daycare kids), helping family members, cooking, cleaning, etc.,  know that you aren't alone in being 'too busy'.  And don't forget to give yourself an occasional day off!