I can't do it all, I murmured, face deep in a linen clad pillow. I sat up in bed and stared at the wall, blank and patched, from where my desk once hung. I said it again.
I can't do it all.
Grabbing a fistful of sheet, I spoke clearly, without shame that I was speaking to the walls like Willie Nelson: and I don't want to.
I haven't written in months. Really written. Or taken a photograph that wasn't for social media or our business. We've pulled out the guitar and the cajon and our scribbled lyrics and chords only twice, and have felt guilt each time we've sung instead of built. I've missed just being, warm Saturday mornings once spent porch sittin', thick ceramic mugs of steaming coffee in hand, our daughter and the dog at our feet.
I have ambition and drive, but that doesn't mean that I want to only work. When the business I started with my wife - renovating Airstreams - happened so organically, it wasn't without hard work. The past three years of renovation culminated to the moment where it was time. We were ready to see if our idea had any merit or steam. We put the word out, slowly at first, and there it was. A three-year-dream, a three-year "what if" became real. Suddenly, I was racing to keep up, taking meetings and responding to emails and finishing our own Airstream on weekends and blogging and creating a podcast and drafting contracts and and and.
I was feeling my sole design work here at Birch & Pine fall by the wayside, yet that too was a very natural subsiding. I knew that with the renovation business, I would still be designing spaces - and I'd get to work with the person I work with best: my wife. My best friend. My business partner. The one who could take my design and help me create it and bring it to life. I didn't feel sadness, I simply felt relieved. I was getting to do everything I wanted to do in one neat package.
It's certainly difficult to summarize everything that has culminated in the last two-and-a-half months, yet gratitude is the word most continually in my vocabulary when describing how I feel, followed by stress and then exhaustion. I'm most certainly stressed, and the work is constant, I rise early to collapse into bed late, and my eyes feel burnt out from long hours at the computer screen and my hands are cut from hours spent finalizing our own Airstream build. Our daughter's extracurricular schedule changes slip my mind, we eat out far more than we cook at home, our house is so continually dirty I am hiring a cleaning service, I've not run in weeks, our social life has dwindled to zero, and I'm probably the worst friend/daughter/sister (insert role here) because it's taken me days (at one point, weeks) to remember to call or text someone back. I take solace in knowing this isn't forever, that this is what it takes to start a business and fulfill a dream, yet I know that I am only one person and I cannot do it all and don't want to. And that is okay. I would rather have time for people in my life and the things that make my heart feel joy and make me come alive.
The way I see it, I'm getting everything I want and everything I've worked for. It's okay that I'm not running a design business and the renovation business, because I'm the designer for the renovation business. It's okay that I'm not a lifestyle blogger and a photographer and whatever other professional title I once needed to slap on myself to feel grander, because that doesn't mean I'm not a writer and an artist/photographer, simply because I don't have the titles on a business card. I don't need to claim everything I can possibly claim to be proud of myself and the work I have done and the work I do.
Having this realization didn't necessarily lessen the workload, but it certainly lessened the guilt weighing on my heart. Knowing that it's okay to just write...to write, or to create music with my wife or to photograph something beautiful without feeling the need to share any of it, or share all of it, is incredibly freeing. I don't have to create a business out of everything I love to do. I don't have to make money off of something simply because I'm good at it. I don't need to run myself ragged to prove anything anymore. I want to know that at the end of my life, I can look back and say that I loved, and I lived, and I worked hard, and not for acclaim, but because it all fulfilled my soul.