a true feather post

Do you ever wake up feeling tired of playing nice?  I don’t mean with your family and friends, but with all the outside demands and requests and the self imposed shit.

Since I made the decision to stay home 4 years ago, I have been wracked with guilt and worry over contributing to the household income.  I turned to my blog; the writing; the photography; and the crafting, in hopes of it becoming a sustainable way to make money.  For a while it works for us; I feel enlivened and hopeful; I don’t think twice about the time, money, and energy spent because in an ideal world it works out beautifully and profitably.  But then the requests for more stuff  and free stuff start to roll into my inbox.  I extend myself out into the world in hopes of catching a break only to find the truth; everyone wants something for free and the internet is flooded with talented writers, artists, photographers, and crafters trying to make it.  The reality is that it is going to take more time and effort than I can give at this time in our lives.

 Now I love writing and taking photographs and offer it to my friends for free because it feels like a win-win (and it is).  I have written essays and articles for magazines and book projects for free because I believe in them and it builds my “portfolio”.  But I recently read an article on how to price your photography work and a light went on for me.  The question “How little are you willing to take per hour to spend time away or be distracted from your family?” stuck with me.  Artists work hard and I applaud anyone who is paying the bills by doing it.  It is not for the faint of heart.  It can be a fickle venture.

It is true, I love making pretty things; I love a good project, in fact, I NEED a good project or I get bored; I love writing;  I love giving my time and efforts to friends because we can’t always afford material things and it feels worthwhile.  I appreciate sincere and grateful folks writing and asking to use my photos and words for their own projects; it is flattering, it really is.  But it becomes tiring when the only requests are for free stuff and volunteered time and efforts.  You cross into the territory of being taken advantage of.  When that takes you away from your family and home time you can become resentful and stop working from a place of sincere generousity.

This morning I woke up feeling drained by it.  There is a fine line to walk, and I have written about this line before.  Long ago, I used my blog for a brain dump.  I look back on many of those blog posts and cringe, but it was simple and I made a lot of meaningful contacts that remain to this day.  I love blogging, but I sometimes tire of playing nice. I have painted myself into a corner and it is my nature to balk and rebel; that is when I go quiet here.

So I will offer up my writing to publications with a pure heart.  I will continue to do pictures for friends who may not be able to afford it otherwise or simply because they are friends.  I will write about our days the way I see fit.  I will continue to be honest, because honesty is my favourite.  The thought of writing without concern for comments, stats, “impressing” potential clients, writing prospects, or income is oh so liberating, I must say.

I hinted earlier in the week that I keep coming back to the truth that my time is better off spent saving us money rather than making it.  I can plan our meals and make as much as possible from scratch.  I can focus on being a homeschooling mama who sneaks veggies into our favourite foods.  I can plan a pantry and fill it with food from our own garden.  I can keep our finances in order and hang laundry to dry.  I can keep the home fires burning, love and teach our children, and know that this is enough.  I am aware that this isn’t for everyone, but it is for me and it isn’t meant to be insulting to anyone who chooses differently.  Even on the longest of weeks, leaving my kids to work in the real world doesn’t appeal to me at all.  I can be a new age homemaker, a radical homemaker if you will, and leave the guilt on the side of the road.

Are you starting to understand why I am the feather of “feather + anchor”?  I don’t think I am quite as flaky as I appear in this space, but I am aware my ideas and direction do seem to be tied to a feather in the wild wind at times.  I am constantly thinking, analyzing, and processing.  I will have full blown conversations in my head and then blurt something out to Mike expecting him to know what I am talking about.  I can assure you my head is a busy place where everything is carefully weighed out, though it may not appear that way to an outside observer.

Things to remember in 2013:

I am enough

My work is important

Spend less money and more time

Eat these young days up

Stop apologizing for who I am and how I do things

Try again

Repeat the sounding joy

And of course,

go gently + be wonderful

e.

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20 Comments

  1. Posted January 8, 2013 at 10:30 am by Julie | Permalink

    I love your honesty and your thoughts and ideas and appreciate you sharing them here.

    I think that more importantly than it being “enough” it’s the perfect plan. It’s not for everyone, but it weighs heavily on every parents mind I think how much $ is worth it to be away from the children you have? It’s hard to put a dollar amount on that kind of time.

    Enjoy your decisions.

    I feel ya with the constant thinking and inner discussions and the brain being a busy chatty place. My mind is over active and never stops… sometimes I wish it would give it a break!

    • Posted January 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm by erin | Permalink

      Thanks for the kind words my dear!
      e.

  2. Posted January 8, 2013 at 10:48 am by Rae @ Motherhood Han | Permalink

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I can’t tell you how you’ve lifted my heart this morning- I needed these words this morning. Our family is struggling this month financially, and I’m left with guilt and helplessness, and your words are a huge comfort to me.

    • Posted January 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm by erin | Permalink

      I am so very glad!
      warmly,
      e

  3. Posted January 8, 2013 at 11:19 am by Michelle | Permalink

    Yes, yes, yes. I find too that so many bloggers want to sell something, promote something, get you to buy something they sponsor, and you are right, if that is what they want, let them do it. Let me tell you that it is refreshing, REFRSHING, to have someone simply write about what is on her heart without worrying about stats and sales.
    I also agree that it is most often better to spend less than to try to earn more. Best of luck to you. Keep being honest. People will love you for it.

    • Posted January 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm by erin | Permalink

      Thank you so much for the vote for honesty and, as always, the kind and encouraging words!
      e.

  4. Posted January 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm by Kim | Permalink

    I hear you loud and clear. As a stay at home mom who also dabbles in nutrition and works as a doula, I often find requests for free talks, free bits of information, etc. In fact I got an email yesterday from someone looking to pick my brain about toddler nutrition, someone I don’t know, when I emailed back with my consultation fee, she emailed back to say she forgot the would be a fee associated…yeah really. I too have been turning down the free stuff, evaluating where my time is best spent, and it is here at home with my two men, doing exactly what you are doing figuring out how to save money. It ain’t easy, but I am working on it.

    Sorry for the rant, but your post really hits home.

    Keep repeating that sounding joy :)

    • Posted January 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm by erin | Permalink

      Thank you so much! Sometimes I think I am being ungrateful or harsh, but it really is nice to know I am not alone in this!
      I wish you well, and you’re right, it isn’t easy :)
      e.

  5. Posted January 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm by Lisa | Permalink

    As usual, I really appreciate your honesty and how you keep it real. On the flip side, it stirred up some fears I had deep down as I am about to embark on building a new business venture while being the sole income earner for our household – and how to balance the work that will bring in money with the creative “work” that I really enjoy. Many times your posts make me think, and no, you’re not being harsh or ungrateful.

    I can totally relate on the busy mind, sometimes I try and explain to my husband what I am thinking about and some of my worries, etc and he gets an incredulous look and just says “we’ll figure it out, it always works out in the end.” I wish I could just trust and let go, it just doesn’t seem to be in my nature! (Sorry for the lengthy comment!)

  6. Posted January 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm by Heather | Permalink

    Being able to write and have it resonate with others is a skill and a talent. Just as creating is. Would an architect offer his skills & talent for free? It is frustrating and never simple…motherhood, finances, creativity and how they all coexist…thank you for your eloquence and honesty. I keep reading over your phrase about leaving ‘guilt on the side of the road’…gotta remember that one…

  7. Posted January 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm by Harleigh | Permalink

    I want to know Erin that your words are worth millions to me. I wish I could pay you for that. You echo the experience of many a stay-at-home-broke-tried-Mama and you are unique because you tell it like it is. Yours is the only blog, that I have found, that isn’t censored and spewing rainbows and sunshine. I see you as courageous, honest, beautiful, tender, and a damn good photographer. Your posts make me cry, laugh, feel validated, understood, and releaved (that someone else is feeling the same damn way I am). So, humbly, thank you.

    • Posted January 9, 2013 at 8:46 am by erin | Permalink

      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
      It means so very much.
      e.

  8. Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:27 am by Cheyenne | Permalink

    Not sure I have commented before but this post really hit home. It sounds like words I could use to describe myself and the position I am in at the time. Your writing and photography are beautiful and should be valued. Also your time with your family – if only the world valued it as much as we do and should be. Trust in yourself and the positive you are doing for your family. You are a wonderful mamma!!!!!! What you are doing at home will have life lasting affect on your family and the people around you.
    In reading some of your old posts I realized you are located in the area where I was born – you make me feel connected to the area again. My parents live down the road from the Ellenburger Farm in Coe Hill. I will be headed there in May when my boys and leave England.
    Chey xo

    • Posted January 9, 2013 at 8:46 am by erin | Permalink

      What a small and wonderful world!
      Thank you for the kind words :)
      e.

  9. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:55 am by dre | Permalink

    It’s not flaky to suss things out and to change your mind. Your honesty is always refreshing in a world where so few bother. Good for you for finding your boundaries and staking a flag on your motherhood. I homeschooled for a decade and wouldn’t trade a day of it—even for all its challenges. Now both of my kids (teenagers!) have decided to go into the new arts charter school here, and I find myself in the market for a day job. OMG. And to be honest, it’s not any easier now trying to decide how much time I’m willing to devote to a job outside the house. In the end, I think maintaining our boundaries with integrity and honesty is the only way to get through the day. Even if it doesn’t make us a lot of money. 😉

  10. Posted January 9, 2013 at 9:39 am by Waverley | Permalink

    I admire your commitment to your family and children. I left the practice of law 15 years ago to stay home with our children because we decided as a couple it was important to us to have one parent at home. Yes, we did forgo a lot of material possessions and times were often lean. It is also emotionally and physically draining to be home day after day with young children. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Over Christmas, my 19 and 14 year olds sat with me in front of the fire telling me what they remember from their “childhoods.” It was not toys, clothes, a perfect nursery, or trips to the coffee shop. It was curling up on the couch with a pile of books, making mud pies with old pans, and being allowed to dig holes in the backyard.
    You are creating this for your children and you are doing a great job. They really are young for such a short period of time.

    • Posted January 9, 2013 at 9:43 am by erin | Permalink

      Oh! Thank you so much!
      I do love hearing stories from the “other side”. It feels so very far away right now, but I know in my heart that we are creating great memories and foundations.
      Warmly,
      e.

  11. Posted January 9, 2013 at 2:37 pm by Emily | Permalink

    The “self-imposed shit” gets me every time! Thank you for your honesty–very refreshing. I am a fairly new reader, and love your blog. Always excited when a new notice pops up in my inbox… Keep doing what makes your heart sing and take EXTRA good care of yourself!
    I have been in a similar place with those guilty feelings…..I’ve been home for 2 1/2 years after 10 years in my career field, and it took some time to feel comfortable with my new role…it helps a lot when I see a content husband and child, and know that if I’m good, they’re good–almost every time. :)

  12. Posted January 10, 2013 at 7:48 pm by Bonnie | Permalink

    Your honesty is refreshing, and it is why I return to read your blog again and again. Thank you.
    I am struggling myself these days because my youngest just went off to Kindergarten. Suddenly I have all this “free time”, and while my husband and I agree that there is value in being home, I get so tired of the questions from working moms, wondering why I’m not out looking for a paying job to fill those daytime hours.
    I love your thoughts on “saving money”, rather than “making money”. That’s been my focus for some time now, and being home for those hours of the day to cook, clean, make from scratch, etc, is the only way I can see doing that.
    Keep on keeping it real!

  13. Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:19 pm by Stephinie | Permalink

    I looooooove this. So much of it completely resonates with where I am. I love it when you dump this stuff here…. it lways brings a smile to my face.
    xo~
    s

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