The Modern Love Triangle
Work and life and love and how to have it all… Writing this was more difficult than I had anticipated. On the surface I thought I’d write about the challenges of starting a business, being engaged and in the midst of a long-distance relationship. Each of these areas of life could justify seeing separate therapists! You know when people say “(blank) is cheaper than therapy”? Well, I recommend (blank) in addition to therapy! Writing, yoga and a good bottle of wine have been my sources of therapy in dealing with the the challenges of being a woman who wants to “have it all” and “do it all”.
Let’s dig into it. Let’s really talk about what it looks like to balance pursuing your dreams, having a relationship and maintaining some semblance of a social life. This May marked my one-year anniversary as a solopreneur. It was the most difficult year of my life, but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. When I talk to my peers, (usually these conversations also involve a shared bottle or two of wine), who have made the leap from full-time too, we share our lessons learned, the hopes, the fears and all of the emotions that come with transitioning from the job with the bi-weekly paycheck, the health insurance, a 401K and all the niceties of security. Not to mention the long days, working weekends, giving up our routines and extras, like dinners out and yoga classes and our new shoe budgets.
Am I selling this yet? Are you ready to quit your job and set up shop? Truly, there are many rewards that go with the risk or we would not be chasing down this crazy dream. We are not completely insane! I used to be THE advocate for balance. That was before I launched out on my own. I get it now. I completely understand how people can let their health, their balance and their free time slip away in pursuit of one singular dream. I worked far too many 14-16-18 hour days last year. It was my name on on the door and my reputation at every touchpoint, from the first call to the final delivery.
As you can imagine, this level of intense dedication to your work impacts the rest of your life, your relationships and especially those closest to you. I remember being upset on the weekends as my fiancé went off with friends to have fun while I stayed at home to meet a deadline. He supported me as best he could, but obviously wasn’t going to stay at home and forgo his weekend because I had deadlines.
I was also supposed to be planning a wedding with him in my seemingly nonexistent spare time. Our spring wedding date was drawing nearer and our plans for the wedding were not taking shape between our work schedules. The “life” and “love” part was being squeezed out as we both pursued our career-related dreams: his in the film/visual effect industry;
the “life” and “love” part was being squeezed out as we both pursued our career-related dreams
mine in the pursuit of increased flexibility and a vision to blend my love of design and wellness. One night all the emotions and intense feelings came to a head. We made the decision to postpone our wedding. Not an easy decision. Lots of tears. Lots of glasses of wine. And yes, therapy. Real therapy.
It saddens me how far out of balance everything had to become in order for changes to begin. It was time to reassess my goals. Why I was doing this. I scheduled yoga twice a week. I stopped ordering dinner in and began cooking more. I created boundaries with clients. I tracked and managed my time to truly know my value. I increased my rates and capped my work to no more than 40 hours a week. I stopped working on weekends and quit work at 6:00pm.
Along with changes on the work front, my fiancé and I began to date each other again, which felt equal parts foreign and fun after 7+ years of being together. We planned dates for each other. He would pick me up at my place. Drop me off. Kiss me goodnight. Text me that he loved me before going to bed. It was sweet and felt like the restart we needed.
When things swing this wildly out of balance, it takes time to get back to “good”. Slowly, steadily and with intention and purpose. Respecting my time and my needs as an individual and as part of a couple. Supporting each other instead of leading parallel lives and taking one another for granted.
When he called me this past March sharing the news of a job offer in Melbourne, Australia, my heart sank. My head knew it was the right direction. I encouraged him to take the position and see the world. As I write this article we have one month down and five months remaining before we’re reunited stateside. We’ve had periods of long distance before in our relationship, but never entire oceans between us. We’re doing well and talk to each other daily, which on some level feels like a vast improvement in contrast to most of last year.
I feared that with him gone and having more “me-time” I would relapse into working long hours and weekends, but I am proud to say that since his March departure I have taken two mini-vacations AND have kept my boundaries in place with nights and weekends. Last year was the most difficult year of my life but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. When people ask me what it’s like owning my own business I smile and say “I’ve learned so much more from my mistakes than any of my successes”. Getting it right is easy. Getting it wrong, letting go of your ego and learning how to make it right – that’s character. That’s what sets you apart from the sea of competitors and makes you an amazing partner in life and love.
What happens next? Staying present, first and foremost. Optimistically looking forward a little bit at a time. Planning my mid-summer visit to Australia. And learning more about myself over the course of our time apart instead counting down the days until we’re together. Drinking good wine with my incredible, supportive friends. Life is always moving; it’s how we adapt, grow and change that makes the movement positive or negative.
I would love to hear from you if you’ve started your own business; if you’re in a long-distance relationship; or you just want to share things going on in your life! And of course – I’d love to field any questions you may have for me.
Photography by: Justin Mijal
As summer begins, we’re sharing adventures near and far. We invite you to experience the transformative power of travel with us.