My Hats Fell Off…That Ever Happen To You?

Hello – J here.    I’m a firm believer that a happy life is a balanced one and I’ve been trying to achieve that harmonious balance between my many roles.  What roles, you ask?  Let me show you my hat collection.

First and foremost, I’m a Mom.  Tied for second, I’m an Author, Small Business Owner and Wife.  Third, I’m a Housekeeper.  Then all clumped together, I’m a Chauffeur, Accountant, Chef, Teacher, Volunteer, Personal Shopper, Landscaper, Nurse, Cheerleader, Referee, Laundress, Hostess and Daughter.  Way down the bottom, I’m a Woman. Occasionally, these roles switch priority order.

During the month of November, I typically add Marathon Writer and this year I took on one more role: Nanowrimo Municipal Liaison.  Due to our historic October Nor’easter, you can add Pioneer to the list. 

Last month, one of those roles was the hat that started an avalanche.  It wasn’t just one hat that fell off, no.  All the hats plummeted from my head at the same time.  For a week and a bit, the only hats I could wear were Mom and Pioneer, because well…really I caught the Mom hat before it hit the ground (as I always will) and the Pioneer hat was forced on me by that witch, Mother Nature.

Circumstances made me grab the Nurse hat and pile it on just when it was time to throw the Pioneer hat away (hopefully never to be seen again!).  Everybody was sick, in November, including me.  Bronchitis, the stomach bug, strep throat, tonsilitis, medication that turned otherwise pleasant children into raging maniacs; it was a crazy 30 days.

The calendar prompted me to add the Hostess hat, since a dozen people expected to eat on Thanksgiving.  The day before that, my hubby spent 5 hours replacing the toilet.  Did you know a particle board fire truck would turn to an unremoveable cork when flushed?  Me neither, but he wasn’t available to help much.

Then the Small Business Owner hat reared its head.  Guess what?  Ages ago, way back in September, I pushed the release date for my next novel (The Peacock Tale) to November 29th because it wasn’t done in time to meet the first deadline.  Sigh.  So I put my big girl panties on (as we used to say when I was a working mom – HA! as if I don’t work now…) and forced aside all other responsibilities (except Chef…somehow I never get to drop that one either) to get all the edits input into the manuscript.  Ten more hours of formatting and the book was up on Createspace and Smashwords.

Here it is, the beginning of December and all of those other hats are still laying on the floor – what an epic fail.  I have Volunteer responsibilities waiting to be completed.  I wrote all of 10,000 words for Nano and was probably the worst Municipal Liaison, ever.  My house is a wreck and I have a mountain of laundry to do.  The leaves finally fell off the trees and need to be raked before it snows.  Sigh.

But you know what?  Maybe I should take a moment to think about all the things that I did accomplish this year rather than focusing on the failures.  The children are happy and healthy (ish).  I’ve published 2 novels, several versions of 2 picture books, launched a webpage and a blog (with lots of help).  The house is still standing – even after a Tornado, an Earthquake, a Nor’easter and a Hurricane (did I mention that I live in Connecticut?!  What the heck, Mother Nature!)  My husband is content to remain married to me, so I’m doing a better job there than 50% of the married world. 

Today’s Secret: You can have it all, but you probably can’t have it all at once.  If you pile too many hats on, they come crashing down, maybe to remind of what’s important.  That hat that you refuse to let fall – that’s what is most important to you.  But beyond that, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments, even in the face of epic failure. As long as the most important things are as they should be, sometimes you have to let the rest of the hats lay on the floor until you can pick them up again.  And that’s OK.

Today’s Question: How do you handle your myriad of responsibilities?  What’s your secret to success?

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16 thoughts on “My Hats Fell Off…That Ever Happen To You?”

  1. Oh, J, I feel your pain. The month of November has been . . . interesting. The power outage left me discombombulated and I’ve been off balance ever since. Add to that an office move which required me to work overtime culling, organizing, and packing for numerous people, then to begin the unpacking and reorganizing process in the new, not-quite-finished space, most of my hats are lying in a giant pile on top of the unwashed laundry on the unvacuumed floor of my house as well. Can you say stress? I wrote about 100 words for NaNo and have been neglecting my Scribes and other blogs I like to follow. I owe an agent a partial, and the list goes on, and on, and on. December is looking up, though. The new office is going to be quite nice once it’s finished (far, far nicer than the old one), I’m getting a new car in the next couple of weeks (who wants to go for a ride?), and a couple of large projects will be done this weekend. I’m attacking the housework and laundry today, then it’s time to start thinking about holiday shopping. It’s all going to be OK.

    ***Wanna hear a factoid about Suze? (I’ll leave it to you to decide whether it’s an interesting factoid or not :) ) In second grade I played Bartholomew Cubbins in our elementary school’s production of Dr. Seuss’s The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. My mom says I was very cute.

    1. I just bet you were cute, Bart! Well, remember – give a moment to think of the things you did accomplish lately rather than focus on the things you didn’t! And I learned that even if I don’t get everything done…the world still spins. At least until December 2012…

  2. Considering the shape most of us in CT were after the storm, I think you did very well. I think the stress of the storm clobbered our immune systems. I was sick for about three weeks with bronchitis, too, as were many of my friends.

    Anyway, this year was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, which turned into a #epicfail. Then again, on top of being sick, I had Breeder’s Cup (a big deal when you have a horse blog), Equine Affaire trade show, the New England Crime Bake, two close family birthdays, Thanksgiving and a wedding anniversary. I know better than to add anything else to the November calendar. Really. I do.

    Here’s hoping everyone’s over the bug at your house.

      1. Hi, Susannah – I know what you mean about selling out fast. These days, you pretty much have to be prepared to register in June or July for that November event. :(

        Between the master classes, author critiques, the workshops, the panels, the signings and the costume banquet, it’s a mad whirl. I wrote a bit about one of the forensics experts in the CTRWA newsletter.

        If you have any more questions, feel free to email me. :)

    1. I hear you about the bronchitis! My doc says that there was really bad air and there’s been LOTS of breathing trouble…I’m still sucking on an inhaler…I hope you are feeling better!

    1. Ya know, once again, Jen’s right. Outsource what you can. If you can’t afford to pay someone and you have a family, delegate.
      * My husband took over the laundry., partly because the dryer adds warmth to his basement workshop.
      * I have a cleaning lady come every other week.
      * Although I organize our receipts, I have an accountant fill out our tax forms.
      * With HootSuite, you can bulk draft your Tweets and them schedule them for book and/or blog publicity. (Some apps will link your FB and Tweets, but that doesn’t work for me.)
      Think of what chores you can palm off.

  3. Hi J,
    How do I handle it? I remind myself it’s ok to be out of balance temporarily. Dust will keep, as will dirty laundry. I prioritize and do that which is most important because the other things will always get done, eventually. I began the month of November, like many in CT, in a darkened house due to our early nor’easter. I could have began NaNo late, but then there was a death in the extended family. Ok, I told myself, I could still do this in 3 weeks … it’s not too late. Then, I got an unexpected house guest. I realized NaNo was not in the cards for me in 2011. I learned to be flexible and go with the flow. Most of all, I allow myself to take a moment or two to myself and simply breathe.

    1. You know, you can’t breathe enough. Seriously. In my old job (pre-stay at home mom) I found myself with so much to do with such crazy deadlines that I was actually short of breath at my desk. It was nuts, and one of the reasons I quit that job. And I’m always trying to balance, but it’s hard. I’m learning to prioritize my hats and pretty much everything after 3rd place might just have to wait until the kids are older.

    1. It’s hard not to be hard on myself! I expect a lot from me and I usually deliver. But, like everything, there is something positive to be learned from this experience and I think the prioritizing is it. If the house is dirty, so be it. If we eat something quick and easy instead of healthy, oh well. Although, I had to pause in my reply because Sonny Boy just stopped up the toilet. AGAIN! FLARK!

  4. I sooo want to give you a hug!

    We women are amazing. We take multitasking to new heights and those superheroes in the crazy tights, they’ve got nothing on us.

    And as far as epic failure, there’s no such thing, sister. It’s all about learning life’s lessons, growing and moving forward.

    You’ve got the right attitude, J. Focus on the important things, the accomplishments and the blessings. The rest doesn’t much matter on the brain tumor scale of life.

    1. Well – no. Not much matters at all when weighed against something like that! I’m learning to let some things go, and if I don’t get as much accomplished as I’d like, well – that’s okay too.

  5. You know what? The woman is the most amazing creature. We can multi-task. God gave us that gift. I discovered though that most of the time it is not worth multi-tasking. But smelling the roses is worth it. All those jobs can wait, and do wait, and wait. Right? So, who’s going to write that book…”Multi-Task?”

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