For me, 2014 was the year of the written word.
It’s the year I started writing in earnest: I wrote articles on rain rot, hoof abscesses, blanketing, biosecurity, dentition, cribbing and Newfoundland ponies. I wrote personal essays on motherhood, courage, faith, perseverance, and identity. I made it a priority to write regular letters to my mother, grandmother and sister on the other side of the country. I wrote love letters to my husband. I wrote in my journal, I wrote on my blog.
But the most gutsy writing I did all year happened on January 3, 2014, after weeks of careful contemplation:
“Please accept my resignation effective immediately. As you know, I had my second child in March and I have decided that I will not be returning to work after my maternity leave.
Thank you for the opportunities for professional and personal development that you have provided me during the past six years. I have enjoyed working for the Board and appreciate the support provided me during my time with the company.
* * * *
I thought about quitting my job at least once a day every day beginning on May 14, 2010.
That’s the day my son was born. I knew I wanted to stay at home with him – I didn’t want to miss his first word, his first step, his first anything – but quitting my job wasn’t an option. I had student loans, my husband had a car loan, and we had a mortgage.
So we arranged childcare, and I went back to work.
My daughter was born almost three years later, on March 12, 2013. I thought by that point I would be happy – or at least settled! – in my role as a working mom, but after two years, it still wasn’t where I wanted to be. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to stay home with my children at the end of my maternity leave.
My husband and I crunched the numbers. We budgeted, we saved, we paid off our loans – and on January 3, 2014 I submitted my formal resignation letter.
It was terrifying.
I went from having a comfortable office job with a very good salary to working from home, struggling to balance my time between tea parties with teddy bears and writing enough articles to buy the english cucumber for their tiny sandwiches.
Some days I felt like a bad mom – usually on the days when I was trying to be a stay at home mom and a work at home mom at the exact same time. I learned to set office hours for myself, but office hours are nearly impossible to enforce when your “office” is simply a desk in the corner of the kitchen!
And some days I felt like a bad wife. When you work for yourself, your work is never, ever, ever, ever, ever done. I always feel like there’s something else I should be doing – another interview I should be setting up, another article I should be pitching. On the rare evenings my husband and I were both home and he wanted to do something relaxing like watch a movie or a TV show, more often than not I turned him down because I felt like I had to work.
A year later I still struggle to find that balance between my role as a wife and mother and my role as a writer. Some days involve very little sleep and an awful lot of hustle!
It hasn’t been easy – yet I’m the happiest that I have ever been.
And I think that’s what being gutsy is all about. It means taking the steps you need to take to live the life that you want to live – even if it is hard.
It means letting your faith be bigger than your fear.
Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.