On Baked Goods, Gardening, And Cultivating Career

Lately I’ve been struggling.  I’ve also been succeeding.  I’ve been picking and choosing and placing and planning.  Through this process I’ve been visualizing what’s really important in my life.  I imagined myself as a pie with three thick slices*.  Fill it with whatever pleases you (mine is peach cream) but picture it.

(*Note: there are other slices of my identity such as wife, yogi, dysfunctional twitter user, but those are firmly established.  The three slices below are the ones I’ve been struggling with over the past few years.)

One slice of me is a mom.  The kind that gets down on the floor to play cars, who runs over the jungle gym bridges, and who delights in making my kids laugh by doing crazy things.  I have enjoyed my days at home with my children without a shred of regret.  That’s not to say I haven’t lost my shit on occasion or doubted my ability to be a full-time parent, but I never regretted giving up my career in finance for them.  For the most part I was exhausted but happy, even more so when I became a freelancer who channeled that leftover longing into writing.  Which brings me to the next slice.

Another part of me is a writer.  I have written all over the internet about myself, my struggles in motherhood, and my opinion on popular headlines from a parent’s point of view.  Since December I have also written two very shitty first draft (a la Anne Lamont’s perfect phrase) novels.  The first one was DOA, but I am in love with the second and am revising my heart out.  I recently pitched an agent who requested a full before I had to admit I didn’t have a full.  I do have a polished 50 pages that I am willing to show and I let that fly today.

Another part of me is a lawyer.  I spent almost 20 years either dreaming of, studying to be, or actually being a lawyer.  I’ve spent the past 4 years trying to reject it.  I was disillusioned by the lack of women role models and simply didn’t have it in me to put in the number of hours it would require to break that glass ceiling over a lawyer trying to be successful in finance.  As a mother of two young kids, honestly, I just didn’t think I had it in me.  I have regretted that a lot in the past year and many of my Mommyish posts revealed my struggle.  While I was happy in my personal choice, I felt I was letting down all female lawyers, or at the very least my daughter if she ever wanted to practice law and have a family.  I had opted out and blamed the culture (which is partially to blame) instead of continually trying to change it or finding a better fit.  That time is over.  I start full time next week with the law firm that gave me my start right after law school.

I know what you are thinking.  This is a lot of crazy shit.  Going back to the law full time after my writing career really gained traction — how does that make any sense?  You’re thinking “blow up that three-piece pie, Carinn, because something’s gotta give.”

It’s true, things will change.  But I am hoping it’s mostly my analogy.  A pie, I’ve realized, is a fully baked and completed product.  Which I am not.  I am more like a farmer growing a vegetable garden.  I’ve got my plot of land.  The soil is rich and dark and fertile.  I’m growing carrots, snow peas, and beets.  Each one requires attention at different times, each one has slightly different seasons.  Learning which crop will sustain me will take time and careful tending.  Season after season I will improve my product through trial and error.  It will take many seasons of work, no matter how much I try to muscle through it faster.  Turns out, vegetable gardens don’t respond to my strong arm attempts.

I have no idea what this next chapter looks like in real life.  I do, however, know that I will practice acceptance daily — of all the competing parts of me and all of the good and bad parts of this journey.  I’ve learned that by rejecting an important but complicated aspect of my life, I was rejecting part of me.  All this did was invite struggle.  If a part of my identity falls away, it must do so naturally, rather than me trying to push it out of the picture because it’s not always comfortable.

In the past few weeks during which these changes have been set in motion, this quote rings true.

If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.

-J. Krishanmurti

Here’s To Transformation.

**This post first appeared on Outlaw Mama.  Go check her out and submit to her work-life series every Friday talking about our struggles balancing work, kids, and our sanity.**

11 thoughts on “On Baked Goods, Gardening, And Cultivating Career

  1. Change is good! I have just barely begun to consider the possibility of returning to work, so I am always intrigued to hear how it goes for others. Sounds like you’ve given it a lot of thought and are ready. Best of luck!

  2. Love the vegetable garden metaphor! Best wishes at your “new” job. Sometimes, the more you do, the more you do; if that makes sense. “Cultivating” 😉 your intellectual passions is part of being a great mother!

  3. Best of luck and kudos to you for accepting everything about you that makes you “you.” You’re gifted and spectacular…use it all. Cheers to this new transformation! Love the garden analogy…but be sure to know it’s okay to ask for help picking the weeds.

  4. Who I am is clear to me. And yet, I’m still in the ‘gotta change this, quick, maybe’ mode of thinking. I don’t know why; it just is. I’m glad you’re in love with this book. It will shine through when your proposal is accepted, because it WILL be accepted. And I’m proud of you: proud of you for accepting that things change, yes, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

    • Thank you for your kind words! I am struggling, especially as I am in the thick of it. I remain focused on exactly what you said, change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing — and in fact I have a lot more power over how I perceive changes than I realize. We all do.

  5. Wow. This is a huge change, and all those questions are great questions for everyone to ask themselves. So how is it going???

    I’ll be in NYC the weekend of 8/23-25 and I’d love to meet you in person if you’re around/available. Congratulations on your new career move – wishing you huge success in every slice of your world : )

  6. Congrats on your new job! I have my fingers crossed that everything will work out for you, and I applaud your enthusiasm for trying to change the problems so many working moms face from within the corporate culture.

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