If the first question people ask me is, “What inspired the creation of Feather Leather Designs?” the second is “How do you find the time?” While I certainly can’t speak for my mom and my sister, this seemed like a relevant and appropriate topic for me to tackle in our second blog.
It’s no surprise that people ask me that question. On paper, starting a new business isn't something you’d expect from a full-time working mom. But in order to understand the how, let me tell you more about the why.
Staying active and busy is part of my DNA. I have never, ever, sat still. My parents would tell you that I would neither go to sleep early nor sleep in late out of fear of ‘missing out on something.’ (Side note: My college roommates know, however, that theory didn’t apply to my 8 a.m. corporate finance class!)
But truly, I’ve always been someone who thrives on a demanding lifestyle. When I was starting out my career, a mentor told me that I need to be a duck…appear calm and confident on the surface even when I’m kicking like hell underwater to stay afloat. This metaphor fits me perfectly. I feel most in control of life when life is on the verge of spinning out of control. I hope that paradox resonates with someone else reading this!
So how does this 40-year-old mom, wife, corporate leader, entrepreneur, volunteer and fitness junkie “find the time?” The simplest answer is – because I make time. We all have hours in our day that we fill with whatever it is we choose. For me, I make time for the activities and people I love; the same way other working moms, stay-at-home moms, single moms, wish-you-were-moms, and moms of moms find the time to do the things they need to do to feel whole.
I can’t pretend to have all the answers, nor that anything I’m doing is right, but here is what keeps me going:
- I depend on my village. I am so fortunate to have a strong network of people I love and trust, who are willing to jump in and help or be a confidant. In fact, I am writing this blog as I spend a week in Europe for work. The things that I traditionally shepherd continue to move forward without me – at home, at work and with FLD. That’s because I am surrounded by family and friends who have my back and would do anything to help, just as I would do for them. So, cultivate your tribe - or at least identify your two or three go-to people - and love them hard and lean on them when needed.
- I am committed to organization. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be organized. I was Marie Kondo-ing since I was a little girl. But thoughtfully organizing to-do lists, schedules and physical stuff is what keeps me focused and sane. An app called Hub Family Organizer, a shared calendar/shopping list/tasklist system, was a game-changer for our family. But everyone is different. Find a system that works for you, and don’t beat yourself up if organization isn’t your thing. There are amazing resources and people out there who can help (like my friend Maria Baer of The Baer Minimalist).
- I make time for me. For me, that’s my workout. I am at my best when I carve an hour out of my day to sweat – it’s as good for my mental health as it is for my physical health. For others, it may be a short walk, a quiet cup of coffee and a book, or a manicure. Whatever it is that helps you be your best self, make time for it. Because you matter, too.
- I say no more often. Kind of. This is one of the hardest words to say but one of the most powerful. When faced with a choice, I've learned to place that choice into one of four categories – have to, nice to, no way and “no but.” The first three are rather straight forward, but the last one requires more explanation. The “no but” refers to things that I’d like to do but don’t have the time or resources to do well. Rather than saying no, I say “no, but...” In a recent example, I was asked to serve as chair of a board committee I helped to create. While I absolutely believed in its mission and charter, I knew it wasn’t the right choice for me or my family right now. But rather than saying no, I said “no, but here’s what I can do.” It’s a fantastic way to offer support, but on your own terms.
- I give myself grace. Despite my best efforts, life can still spin out of control. I make mistakes, miss deadlines, forget a school form or library book, you name it. There are days full of emotion and fear and questioning. There are arguments and shuffling and scrambling. But those are just moments - tiny knots along a very long rope. These moments teach us, push us and change us. And we get back up, we give ourselves grace, and we move forward. Because what other choice do we have?
- And finally, I drink coffee. Lots of coffee.
That’s it, everyone. I am the metaphorical duck. I am a typical first born, type A, recovering Virgo perfectionist. But there are no super powers here. No special elixirs or secret sauces. I find the time because I want to. I create this state of busyness because it’s who I am and what makes me feel fulfilled. Because I believe in the things I do, the relationships I create and the outcomes I help to deliver.
Time is valuable, there is no doubt about that. But time is also limited. Spend that time doing what you love, with and for the people you love and who love you. Because that’s what really matters.
Until next time,