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Lately, the days have marched on, and somehow June is gone.

What seemed like the longest wait for us is peeling away, week by week. We are within a month of closing. I’ve not done too much to prepare — not nearly as much as I anticipated, though I got antsy one afternoon and boxed up my winter clothes. With the mad sprints I’ve had at work through the late Spring and into early Summer, as well as hosting both sides of the family and managing through the end of Jed’s few weeks of 6am-til-11pm busy season days, I’ve been looking forward to taking things a bit slower.

Which, sounds so cliché… but it’s hard. It’s hard for me not to want to repost listings on Etsy the intsant they’re purchased. I worry about getting behind, falling out of popularity in my category, or not being relevant anymore …  thinking that this whole slightly astonishing work-at-home / own-your-own-business-thing might crumble away right before my eyes.

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I think it’s embedded in my genetic code to work and to take pleasure in productivity. That said, I’ve made my flexible schedule possible, and I’m trying not to take it for granted. I relish days I can pack up and head to the beach in the middle of the afternoon — something that would have required a vacation day and a paper trail nearly a year ago. Yet, I’ll regularly resume work after dinner or spend all of a holiday (ahem, today), making orders ready to ship to free up my schedule for a one-week vacation. I’ve come to learn that this discipline and self-regulation is absolutely critical for those that want to be successful business owners. Something, strangely, I couldn’t fully understand when I worked for one.

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Our vacation in Maine is something I’m looking forward to. It was what I wanted ferociously two weeks ago – at the height of the dawn-til-dusk working schedules we were both keeping.  I craved being at a place where phone lines wouldn’t reach, internet signals would be inconveniently patchy, and we had nothing but each other, the dogs, and the ocean to stare at, endlessly.

It was the type of place that called for new music, new books, and a new hobby to keep me busy. I picked up a few things to  start oil painting- something I thought I’d enjoy — and tried my hand at it this week in preparation.

Ironically, this burgeoning hobby is a lesson in slowness, which hasn’t really dawned on me until just now. When I got my paints and the how-to book, I laid it all out on the kitchen table, ready to create my masterpiece on the first try.  I was working off a step-by-step in my new book, but decided that I wanted to skip right to that fantastic impasto technique, with heavy layered color applied with a palette knife, instead of the elementary brushed-mountains the exercise called for. Not surprisingly, my first attempt turned out recognizable, but rather dull and without a focal point. I ended up with a painting that certainly looked like mountains on a blue-sky background, but there was nothing remarkable about it to speak of.

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For me, oil painting is a lesson in taking things slowly. Letting things dry. Thinking about your options before committing. Wiping off what doesn’t work, allowing what does to dry and dry permanently. Having a preliminary sketch to work off, but rolling with what you see, as it comes. It might be a stretch, but I’m certainly taking it as a lesson in patience, as a symbol that the greatest, most richly layered and beautiful lives don’t happen instantly — they take time and deliberate thought to create.

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I still wonder what to say, exactly, when people ask what I do. I still battle self-consciousness when the question arises. I rely on the job I had as a grounding point – using what I spent eight years doing to rationalize what I’m doing now as a chosen step in a different direction. For other corporate types, this often taps into familiar jump-off-the-hamster-wheel desires, which works in my favor, but sometimes not. And that’s hard. I still feel like I’m part of that other world — the one I never truly felt part of in the first place.

Building an identity … it’s a process. And a slow one, at that. By October, it’ll be one year without ‘related work’ — a kiss of death in my former world of resume-reviewing, likely signaling a problem candidate. No matter what anyone says, career changes can often be career killers, which in my case, is exactly what I chose willingly. Living with those choices, after they’ve ‘dried’, is what I’m facing in the months and years ahead.

Our lives– our masterpieces — are created across time. I need to start being comfortable with this timeline, and the awkward unfinished spaces in between.  Anything less turns into something lacking focus.

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