A good friend and former photography professor of mine, Dr. Bill Schaefer and his wife Diane, recently asked me to be a part of a photography project they are working on called Just Gals. In it they are featuring a number of women in an environment that is telling of their life. In thinking about how he could photograph my life we came up with a few ideas. First, he tried taking a picture of me, taking a picture of a FarmHer. Though they turned out fine, it wasn’t quite on the spot. Sure I spend some of my time photographing but the majority of my working time is spent in my home office. In this little FarmHer room tucked away in my basement I edit photos, work on the website, write, email, talk on the phone, Skype, do design work and more. We decided this was the perfect place to photograph me in my element for his Just Gals.
In thinking about what to photograph in my office there are all of the normal office-y things but we decided to focus on the “and more” that I mentioned above. You see, a little over two years ago I left a big corporate career. I left a big paycheck, frequent travel to great places and the opportunity to stay in beautiful hotels. I left the stability of knowing what I was going to be doing every day. I left the sanity and sadness of leaving my then 1 and 3 year old with a sitter for 50+ hours a week. I left all of these seemingly good things so I could first and foremost spend more time with my kids. They grow up too fast and after the birth of my second child that weighed heavily on me. I wanted to spend more time with them. I wanted to get to know them better. I wanted to dig in and deal with the dirty, gritty, magical everyday life. I wanted to clean my own house (and show them how to do it). Heck, I even wanted to pick up my dog’s poop in the backyard (one of the many services we were paying for with two incomes and two demanding jobs). I know, I know, I’m crazy.
The second reason I left was because I was done with that career. I didn’t enjoy what I was doing. I knew I could do something more, something better. Don’t get me wrong, crop insurance is important but I was in a risk management rut at it was time to jump out. Now I know that I left in search of FarmHer, and thankfully I found it.
Now I spend my days in a whirlwind of kids, home and FarmHer. My husband and I work together to get the kids up and out the door in the mornings. My oldest is in Kindergarten so she spends most of her time at school now and I am lucky enough to get to drop her at the school door every day. My youngest is in part-time preschool. The times he is at school are my focused working hours. Yes, I get NINE focused working hours a week to spend on FarmHer which could take 90 hours a week if I had it. On top of those NINE daytime hours, which are I usually reserve for phone calls or meetings, I also work nearly every night for at least a few hours after they go to bed. All of the in between is still spent working in a less focused way (in comes my trust iPhone). So, with such limited “focused” hours I work with lists and don’t waste a minute. Once I pick up the kids it is errand time. If I have to go to the post office, they go. If I have to go to the office store, they go. If I have to hang up photographs or meet with someone, they go. In the time spent at home with the kids I try to balance time in my office, while they play or sometimes watch too much TV in the basement, with time spent focusing on them. We paint, we go to the zoo, we play in the backyard on the slip and slide or swings, we ride bikes. The less focused time spent in my office is with the door open and kids playing near me. I break up fights, I kiss hurt toes, I work around toys, snacks get smashed on the floor under my desk, important papers get torn or drawn on and sometimes the kiddos sneak up to my computer and start typing away and help me lose the last hour of work! I do all of this while working on FarmHer. Sometimes the craziness of it all makes me, well, crazy. Sometimes it makes me laugh. All in all, I couldn’t ask for anything better. I am getting to grow the business that I love in my own way. I get to do this at home, with my kids here being a part of my life and me being a part of theirs. I am truly blessed.
Here is the picture we came up with to illustrate my life. It is based on one that I had seen of the great Tina Fey a few years back. Dr. Schaefer did a fabulous job of capturing the craziness and my kids were so excited to be allowed to touch my keyboard that they were perfect angels.
And yes, in case you are wondering, sometimes on those super crazy days, a beer bottle does make it’s way onto my desk. Welcome to my life.
Photo credit Dr. Bill Schaefer for his Just Gals project.