Category “Juggling Act”

A New Adventure

I’ve been wrestling with what to do now that Lil Mil is practically a grown up (22 months, people!  what is going on with time racing by?!?) and I’ve finished my novel.  I want to keep blogging (my recent hiatus has been like not working out for a few months… I thought about it less and less as time went on, but four months later, I feel slothy and slobby and out of shape – do I even know how to do this anymore?), but this site no longer feels like the right place to do it.  Embrace the Detour was, in its design, a time-limited project.  An “experiment in creativity and productivity,” I always said.  One that I’m so glad I took – I ended up with a novel I’m proud of and hundreds of blog posts commemorating my daughter’s first days of life.

But now it’s time for a new journey.  Or, at least, a new phase in the one I’m already on.  I want this site to remain the repository for all the posts I wrote and detour stories I collected, and I want people to click around and explore.  But from now on, my new posts will appear HERE.  If you’re on the ETD email distribution list, you’ll keep getting posts, originated from my new site.

I hope you’ll stay with me on this journey.  You’ll be hearing from me more often, but the posts will be shorter.  I’ll be keeping you updated on my writing projects (for now, Parallel, the not-yet-titled-Book-2 (not a sequel to Parallel) and TEACH, the TV pilot my writing partner and I sold to ABCF, but hopefully there will be more to tell you about soon!), and doing a lot of what I did here – musing about life and love and identity and motherhood and the juggling act of work/home/everything in between.  So it’ll be the same.  But different.

Check it out!  http://laurenmillerwrites.com

Thankful

I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Exactly a year ago, on Thanksgiving 2009, I revealed my super secret “creative project” to my family.  Up until that day, Embrace the Detour was just a figment of my imagination.  Yes, I owned the domain name and yes, I had paid someone to design the site (back then, I knew exactly nothing about HTML and the ins and outs of Wordpress), but since no one knew about ETD, I could pretend it didn’t exist.

But I didn’t want to.  Not back then, anyway.  Shot through with third trimester pregnancy hormones, I was raring to go.  I didn’t want to wait until Lil Mil arrived.  Eager to convince myself (and everyone else) that I COULD DO THIS! I started working on my first post (which, I’ll admit, took me over a week to write).

While certainly supportive, my family had mixed feelings about this creative project of mine.  Husband in particular was lukewarm.  He was excited that I was excited, but at the same time, he was worried that I was taking on too much.

I was.

Of course at the time I didn’t realize that.  I honestly believed that I could write — and finish! — a novel in the first three months of my baby’s life, and I said as much on my Because page.  Believe me, if I’d known how incredibly hard the undertaking would prove to be, I never would’ve made such a grand (and public) pronouncement.

Thank God I didn’t know.

By the time I realized what I’d signed up for, it was too late.  There were too many people watching and, even more than that, too many people telling me to give up.  It was too much, they said.

They were right, of course, but I refused to accept that.  So I kept at it.  Kept juggling.  Kept struggling.  Kept writing.

Three months turned into 100 days.  My definition of “draft” morphed into something more manageable.  My blog posts became less frequent.

But I kept at it.  Kept juggling.  Kept struggling.  Kept writing.

And today, one year after this blog was born and 10 months and 8 days after my baby was born, I have a completed novel to show for it.  And!  On top of that, I have something unexpected.  A community.  This community.  Friends!  Not the fake, we-met-over-the-Internet kind, but the real, live, we-met-over-the-Internet kind.  Friends like Rachel of MWF Seeking BFF (who I met in person two weeks ago and am now obsessed with.  Rachel, if I move to Chicago can I please be your BFF?)

Thank God for unrealistic expectations.  Thank God for this blog and the book that came out of it.  Thank God for the baby who’s made all the juggling and struggling worthwhile.  Thank God for the boy who is juggling and struggling with me, holding my hand while I do it.

And thank God for you, my friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

At The End Of The Day

I told myself I’d find balance. Demand it if I had to. I believed that there were enough hours in the day to do all the things I love despite my new go-to-work status. Turns out there are.

If I give up sleep.

So here I am, a week into my new old job, and I haven’t written a single blog post since the day I started or a spent any significant time editing my novel. Two of the five nights this week, Lil Mil was already asleep when I got home from work. I haven’t cooked a single meal, read a single page of the book I’m reading or spent a single minute working out.

I have, however, spent roughly 2500 minutes working.

Oh balance, where art thou?

I could lament the state of things. I started to, when I left work yesterday evening and looked up at the building that stole my week. But as I gazed up at the steel and glass and the bright blue behind it, I realized something.

I had a good week. Unbalanced, and certainly not perfect, but overall, pretty enjoyable. Surprisingly fulfilling.

And best of all? The weekend had arrived.

…And We’re Back

I’ve been putting off writing this post. I’ve been putting it off because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say.  I’m still not.  But now the day has arrived and if I don’t say something today, it will have come and gone without my saying anything.

I went back to work today.

After exactly seven months as a work-at-home writer, I am once again a go-to-work lawyer.

Yesterday, I sat cross-legged on my couch in tattered jeans and my favorite t-shirt, nursing an increasingly squirmy little girl while balancing a laptop on my knee.  Today, I am sitting at an actual desk, wearing clothes that are refreshingly (and yet, heartbreakingly) free from drool, poop and vomit.  I am wearing heels.  I smell nice.  I smell like me.  In the past eight hours, I have used a myriad of multisyllabic words to people who have used them back.

I miss my baby.

I miss her less than I thought I would.  I miss her in ways I didn’t expect.

This wasn’t part of the plan.  Detours never are.

The Whole Story

Over Thai takeout last Thursday, a close friend and I caught up.  It’d been over a month since I’d seen her, and even longer than that since we’d had a talking-really-talking-conversation.

As we munched on spicy green beans (her) and gingery mushrooms (me), B said something that stuck with me.  “Reading the blog makes me feel like you and I are talking regularly,” she mused.  “But I realized the other day how little I know about what’s really going on with you.”

My first thought was “but if you read my blog, then you do know what’s going on with me.”  But then I ran through a mental list of things I don’t blog about and realized how little I actually do blog about.  Book and baby.  And lately, only baby.

So I filled her in on all the other stuff.  Marriage.  Family.  Finances.  Work.  The meaty stuff I never write about.

The meaty stuff I never write about.

I write about struggles for time and conflicted feelings and sleepless nights.  I write about my pursuit of productivity and my quest to live in the moment.  But I don’t write about how the three Bs have affected my marriage.  Or the toll my elective  unemployment has taken on my bank account.  Or the fact that I will eventually have to go back to work full time.

If you’d asked me eight days ago why I don’t write about these things, I would’ve been ready with an answer:  my blog is about writing a book while raising a new baby.  These other things are peripheral.  Not the point.

But last week, giving B the full picture instead of just snapsnots, I realized that, when it comes to the pursuit of our dreams (writing that book, producing that film, starting that company), nothing is peripheral because everything – every part of us – is implicated.  You can’t compartmentalize.

And yet we do.  Not only on our blogs, but in real life.  We talk about work and life and the give-and-take between the two.  Our struggle for the illusive ”work/life balance.”  And then we proceed to relay snippets about our jobs or our creative endeavors.  Tidbits about our kids or our spouses.  Rarely acknowledging that the struggle exists not because we haven’t figured out how to balance Work and Life, but because these two categories aren’t actually separate.  Work intersects with Life.  Work sometimes is life.  And then there are the elements that don’t properly fit into either category.  Where do mortgages go?  Work or life?  Hobbies?  Housekeeping?  Health?

I write about book and baby and blog.  I mention boy.  But those four categories aren’t the full picture of my life.  And those four categories aren’t actually categories.  They are people and passions that overlap and intersect in places and in ways that aren’t immediately obvious, and they bump up against and compete with other people and other passions (and other people’s passions).  When I neglect to write about these intersections and friction points, I leave out crucial pieces of the puzzle.  I don’t tell the whole story.

I want to tell the whole story.

Inevitably, my conversation with B turned to this blog.  Its future.  What the next 100 days will look like, and the 100 after that. “What’s next?” she asked me.

I didn’t have the answer ready then, but I have it now:  what’s next is the rest of the story.  The rest of my story.

Five months ago, I set out to write a draft of my first novel in the first 100 days of my baby’s life.  That’s the story I’ve been telling here, in snippets and tidbits, since the day Lil Mil was born.  But it isn’t the whole story.  It was never meant to be.  It’s just the first chapter of a longer, fuller, better story, one that ends with a cover and a spine.  A book.  My book.  Sitting on a shelf in Barnes and Noble.

Or maybe it doesn’t.  Maybe it ends somewhere entirely different, somewhere I don’t expect.  I won’t know til the very last page.

In the meantime, I have a dream to pursue, a little girl to inspire, a husband to love and a mortgage to pay.  That’s the story I want to tell.  The real story.  The whole story.  What embracing the detour looks like, every day.

I don’t want to leave anything out.  I want to talk about the gritty stuff.  The not-so-easy to talk about stuff.  The meaty stuff.  The stuff that makes pursuing our dreams both the hardest and the greatest thing we’ll ever do.

The whole story is worth telling, I think.  It’s the only one that matters, anyway.