A string of bright yellow post-it notes framed our front door. On them were words like “Purse” and “Preschool lunch” and “Nanny bag” and “Pump.”
My husband had written them for me the night before I returned to work after my second maternity leave. Every morning, depending on the day of the week and the month of the year, he’d mix and match the post-it notes and attach them to the doorway. A last minute check for me to ensure that I had everything that I and two littles might need for the day.
And so, every morning, after rushing through breakfast and tugging on hair and packing the last bits of lunch along with a collection of bottles and diapers and changes of clothes, I’d consult the post-it notes. Check, check, check. Ready to go.
At the time I was an account director for a web design agency. The job was a good one. And I was good at it. Good enough, anyway. But I wasn’t passionate about it. So I wasn’t great at it. I could do the job and so, for three years, I’d assumed that meant I should.
A few days a week I worked from home (change the post-it notes). And I had eased back into this post-maternity-leave life at 30 hours a week. But neither of those situations were likely to last very long. My job was a facetime job. For me to be successful people needed to see my face and they needed to see it a lot of the time.
And so I worked to make it work. Be present as much as possible at work. Change my schedule if my team or client needed me. Change the post-it notes.
It never felt good. And it never felt right. It felt rushed and stressful and hurried and complicated.
But, perhaps worst of all, it felt unintentional.
I had not chosen this path. I had blindly followed the path that just happened to be in front of me.
I had never chosen to become an account director. I just hadn’t chosen to be something else.
I had not chosen to enter into another nanny share for our second child. I simply hadn’t chosen to do something else.
I hadn’t chosen to stick with a nanny who didn’t share our views on raising children or to share that nanny with a family whose values did not match our own. I just hadn’t chosen to change those situations.
And so we rolled along. And I lived on the path that just happened to be there.
And that path is a fine path. It’s a path that many follow. Two kids in full time child care, two parents in full time, out-of-the-house work, schedules so complex that the post-it notes change daily. It’s a path that many choose to follow and because of that deliberate choice, it is a good path. For them.
The day I finally made a choice was not an easy day. The day I finally made a choice, I cried. A lot. And I shook with fear and anxiety and the sheer uncomfortable feeling of choosing. Selecting a path and a far less traveled one at that.
But I chose.
I chose to not go back to work full-time when they asked me to. Even though they told me I could not do my job part-time any longer.
I chose to propose a new arrangement. I chose to bravely say aloud what I had wanted all along. To write. To align my passions with theirs. To stop being good enough and be great.
From there, the choices started flowing.
We left our nanny share. We hired back the nanny we loved but part-time to match my part-time schedule. I spent more time with my infant son and never missed another preschool event that I didn’t want to miss.
I stopped writing on the side just because I could and started writing with intention. I began to take on projects that were important to me, contributed in some way to my own passions or my family’s future.
And I tossed those post-it notes in the recycle bin.
There are still days when I don’t live intentionally. When I unintentionally and quite blindly follow the path that just happens to be in front of me. But since that day when I finally made a choice, those days happen far less frequently.
A longtime fan of Tsh Oxenreider and her blog, The Art of Simple, I could not wait to read Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. As Tsh says,“It doesn’t always feel like it, but we DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions.”
Today, my path aligns so much better with my values and my passions. And with the stories and lessons in Notes from a Blue Bike, I feel better prepared to continue to make intentional choices with regards to my life and the path my family takes.
Notes from a Blue Bike comes out today. If ever you have yearned for a slower, simpler, more intentional life, I promise you, the inspiration and wisdom you need are found within it’s pages.
If you want to read more about the book or living intentionally, this post is part of a blog tour. Check out the other posts here.