Feast or Famine

Annah ElizabethLeave a Comment

Anyone who is self-employed or works for a seasonal company—heck, works, period—knows the pressures of The Busy Season.

That sentence makes me laugh because it reminds me of a job interview I once had.

Dressed in heels and my finest skirt ensemble, I walked into the petroleum office door to find the jeans-and-t-shirt-clad secretary counting an obscene amount of cash.

Seriously. I kid you not.

Her makeshift desk, a wooden banquet-style table, sat parallel with the office’s entryway.

One of three women who’d made it past two, pre-screenings, I was a bit taken aback when my competition walked out of her interview in sneakers and blues.

And I’m not talking military Dress Blues.

I couldn’t help but feel confident in my spiffy, professional attire.

Walking through the office door upon my summons, I couldn’t help but notice a dying plant hanging above the future boss’ desk.

As I spoke with the owner, he kept coming back to this one question, rephrased several different ways: “It’s all right to be organized and efficient, but what do you do during the down time?”

I had given him honest answers.

“During the slow times, you catch up on those non-priority items you didn’t have time to do. You prepare for the next busy period, strategize ways to be better organized and more proficient in the tasks at hand, to make the hectic periods less stressful.”

He finally expressed his concern that I might be over-qualified for the secretary/accounting position. “I’m afraid you might grow bored. How do you prevent that?”

“Honestly, I’ve never been in a job where that happened,” I replied.

What is it they say about the truth setting you free?

“There is always something to do if you are willing to look for it,” I continued.

“For instance, the plant over your head is in desperate need of watering.”

I gestured toward the brown and wilted branches and smiled as the words tumbled from my mouth.

He looked to the ceiling.

He returned the grin.

“And, I’ve never had to do this, but, I guess, if everything else is done, the office is spic and span, files are in order, everything is ready for the next busy time, and you don’t need anything…well, then, I would have to say you bring in a good book to read.”

Three days later I received a nice note from him, telling me what a difficult decision he’d had to make.

He regretted to inform me that he’d chosen another candidate, and he thanked me for my time.

A postscript message said: “p.s. I watered the plant.”

The notation was followed by some mark or word indicating humor in the comment.

Wit or not, I was A.G.H.A.S.T.

And free to look for another means of gainful employment.

Which I did.

So here’s the thing, the reason this issue has a front row seat today.

Since the time my children became involved in extracurricular activities, I’ve often said, “I hate May, June, September, and October because everything possible is crammed into those four months.

Sporting events. Testing. Concerts. Special ceremonies. Lawn mowing and leaves…

Warren’s work picks up during the warmer months and he often finds himself working longer days.

Big Guy keeps us hopping as he juggles two spring sports with maintaining High Honors status.

What is the expression? Strike while the iron’s hot?

Warren and I are feeling the stresses of the intersection of Famine and Feast.

Negotiating contracts and new jobs.

“I just want to go fishing,” he said to me this morning as we finished putting together an unexpected proposal with a short window for completion.

And another project currently in the works hinges on it…

I just want a day with my computer.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I wish there were more hours in a day?”

Not me, ‘cause I’d just fill them, too.

No. What we need to figure out is how to manage the time we do have.

Eight hours sleep.

Eight hours work.

One hour commute.

One hour exercise. (Yeah, like that’s going to happen.)

One hour prep meals.

One hour with family.

One hour as Taxi-Mom.

One hour family time. (Ten minutes here. Ten minutes there.)

Paying the bills, buying the groceries, cleaning the house, spending time with friends, mowing the lawn or shoveling the snow…

Dreaming the dream…

How do we do it all?

In an effort to keep taking care of me, I’ve set some boundaries.

A dirty/cluttered house doesn’t signify The End of the World.

Writing will be done at least two days a week.

Just like the U.S. Postal Service, nothing will stand in the way of delivering my creative juices to paper…
I choose to ignore the sink full of dishes and to accept the gift of receiving.
I’ve accepted the fact that there is no giant Semblazoned on my chest.
And I’ve been toying with the idea of hiring someone to come in to mop floors, dust, do dishes, and wash windows…
Of course, this must wait until we are clearly out of This Famine Phase.
Here’s hoping Warren’s latest masterpiece sells soon, which will give us a little budget breathing room.
Keep your fingers crossed for us, Journeyers!
Until then, we are hoping the Feast of a spring/summer busy season will keep those payments heading out the door.
And in eight weeks, school and sports will be over.
At which time sunshine and my summer break will afford me time to recharged my batteries.
How about you? What time of year do you experience Feast or Famine? How do you cope with the stresses of the sluggish times? More importantly, what do you do to celebrate your successes after/during the busy times?

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