The amazing thing about volunteering is working with people and feeling like you are making a difference. The hard thing about volunteering is how everyone feels so much more important than you feel to yourself. Everyone else needs your time, and you know they need your time and you care about the wellbeing of everyone, so you make yourself come, last. We moved here to have more family time, which we make, but it is hard to carve out time for other life! I see people going on vacations and traveling the world, and we are here. I choose to be here, but I also realize how much of my time is spent doing the paperwork and office management of volunteer work, and not working on my own farmette, gardens, business, home, or art. It is so hard to find a balance and volunteering always needs more hours, more supplies. I volunteer probably 30-60 hours a week, and spend every moment not volunteering for nonprofits or free clinics trying to catch up on the rest of life. Homeschooling teenagers, keeping a clean house, walking the dog, putting food on the table. Change of seasons is when I most feel that pressure of needing to slow down, take stock, and find balance. Volunteer a reasonable amount and spend time on my business so that I can contribute to my household and we can even take a vacation or ... gasp ... leave our house for something other than errands! When the seasons change and we get tired and need to pull in for autumn and winter, it seems impossible to find out where to possibly cut hours, and I care for all of those I work with and serve, so it can be a hard thing to juggle.
Having a child with unique and intense health needs dictates a life. We can't eat out, we cannot travel much, there are so many things we cannot do, it takes a lot of energy, and is with us 24/7 - volunteering gives me an opportunity to worry about something other than my child. To do something, while doing it from home, as his unique health challenges dictate so many interactions and environments that we can or more accurately, cannot, be in. But to be honest, being a mom to a child with intense health issues is tiring and stressful all the time as well, of course, and art in the past was always my outlet, while my herbal studies and gardens were my hobbies for my family and their health. I need to blend a bit of both, to allow my artist to still exist, while also still caring intensely for my child as he grows up.
So, my goal for this fall is to pull back, focus more on the people less on the paperwork, take time, work on my business and my own work, my own art. I will of course still volunteer way too many hours, but my goal is family time, income, balance, and fulfillment. I want to work on the farmette we have here - closing the beds for winter and prepping more for next year. Setting up the ceramic wheel and kiln to do more pottery. Work on more projects with the kids - which we do - but, more. Focus on my business and develop it to where I feel like I am contributing to our family life. I have kids who will want to go to college and that means I need an income. I will paint more. Draw more. Write more.
So, I hope to work on the book proposal I keep putting off. Work on the art I keep putting off. Work on the studio and workshop I keep putting off. Travel with my kids a bit, where it is safe for my teenager to travel, which I keep putting off. Work with clay, which I keep putting off. Work on the house, which I keep putting off. Work on the greenhouse, which I keep putting off. Work on bulbs and plantings, which I keep putting off. Work on more music, which I keep putting off. Work on my embroidery, which I keep putting off. Work making things, which I keep putting off. Work on products, which I keep putting off. Work on creating classes, which I keep putting off. Work on taking some time to sit down and be quiet for a few, which I keep putting off. Work on reading books again, which I keep putting off.
Work on being me, which I keep putting off. My birthday is coming up - 52 - and it is time for some introspection, pulling in for autumn and winter, and finding the next year of who I am.
"Still I always
Look up to the sky
Pray before the dawn
'Cause they fly away
One minute they arrive,
Next you know they're gone
They fly on
I am a certified aromatherapist, herbalist, organic gardener, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.