Working It Out

I’ve been awake a bit.  You know, mind wide awake and about a hundred miles ahead of body still inert.  In fact the only reason I’m upright now is because I bribed myself with tea.  It was the last thing I did before heading to bed: brewed a pot of tea and tucked it into a thermos waiting next to my favorite mug.

I’m warming up my hands and sipping warmth all through.  Lovely.  It’s both reminding me and distracting me from the fact that I have other work to do today.  Namely, I need to set up my space today to sell my teas and other products tomorrow at what may be my last big sale of the season.

I own my own business.  I make over a dozen different herbal products including teas, salts, and skin care items like balms and lotions.  I grow as many of the herbs as I can and I source organically for all the rest of what I need.  I spent a lot of time growing, drying, blending and  whipping up my favorite things, selling them at markets and bazaars here in town.  I don’t have a shop which requires me to set up shop each new place.

That’s the business of this afternoon.  I have a few hours and 100 square feet to work magic within.  And tomorrow I will spend the day talk talk talking to a few hundred people laughing and smiling and praying they will take all this wonderful local made, organic goodness home with them to give and bless those they love.  Or those they at least feel obligated to give a gift to in honor of the season.

I love my little business.  I do.  It’s great making beautiful things that help people.  It’s also pretty intense in different seasons and requires more than a bit of dynamic balance.  Which brings me to my other work.

I’m also a teacher.  I used to be a classroom teacher.  Now I teach my own kids at home. It’s wonderful.  Though no paycheck is given, I am rewarded in a million other ways.  The best way is having the children I love actually around.  Most days we have our lessons in the mornings all together.  Afternoons are spent working on more projects than book and paper lessons.  It’s often the time for art and creating for all of us.

This year our school schedule has been quite different that years past.  Mostly because I had to do something different.  There are planning seasons, planting seasons, growing seasons, harvesting seasons and selling seasons.

I began growing in the greenhouse in early spring, planned and created the new gardens right up into the planting time of June.  Watered and weeded, tending the plants through all sorts of minor, but devastating in their own right, natural disasters in summer.  I pick and dry herbs as early and long as I can.  This year I was still picking flowers in mid-November thanks to the lovely little microclimate in my front garden!

Most of the outdoor work in spring was done in afternoons and evenings.  In the beginning of summer we were all ready to stop regular lessons in the morning.  We took six weeks off then and spent most of the days outside.  In July and August we went back to school, though this time in the hot afternoons.

This allowed us our time outdoors in the cooler mornings and long evenings where I could work in the gardens and they could play all around.  I could also clean the Air BnB guest house we have and get it ready for the next round, usually the same day.  We were booked almost nonstop this summer.

It worked better than I thought.  Having had time to run and play all morning, the kids were better at sitting down and focusing in the afternoons.  September brought us back to a more traditional schedule.

I worked selling my products at Farmers Market May & June, off July & August, then back for September & October.  November & December have me selling at craft fairs and bazaars.  October/November was pretty intense trying to create enough all at once to carry me through the big sales.  I took over the guest house for a few weeks from the end of Farmers Market to the beginning of the holiday sales.  It was perfect, November not being a great time to visit our area.  It’s not pretty like spring and summer.  It’s just cold, but without the snow yet so no skiers.

I loved the freedom to just spread out all my materials and work from lunch to dinner without having to clean it all up so I could make dinner.  I could just walk back over and cook in my kitchen.  I could then just go right back over and work as late as I wanted without disturbing anyone else.

Now we are taking the other half of our “summer” break.  We’re off until January.  There is nothing for me to grow right now** and so my time is spent working on the final sales of the season and reading a lot more than I usually can.

At times, this way of work is simply wonderful.  I am able to be home with the kids most of the time and only have to be away from everyone for set ups and sales usually on Fridays and Saturdays.  Other times, I want to run off screaming into the woods because the work doesn’t really ever end and I am rarely alone and there is always something else I could be working on.  I’ve really tried to make sure I am off and resting on Sundays. Resting being not working on my regular tasks, or laundry.  Sometimes it involves a nap, but often a hike.  The hikes are the best.  Soon we’ll be off on snow shoeing “hikes” and that will be wonderful.

I read a book a few weeks ago, The Art of Work by Jeff Goins.  It is a wonderful book that I want to share more about soon.  In it he mentions living a Portfolio Life.  I love that.  Gone are the days of my Grandfather who essentially went from student to soldier (WWII) to working at the post office until he retired.  The world has changed, technology has changed and we’ve changed with it.

So when asked, “What do you do?” I still stumble over what to say, but I’m getting better at it.  I am a more than my job titles, as are you, and I’m not sure it would all fit on a business card anyway.  Can you see it?  Wife-Mother-Writer-Teacher-Grower-Maid-Salesperson-Reader might be a bit much though.

The idea of embracing this Portfolio Life has been, in an overused word, empowering to me.  I am actually feeling more proud than embarrassed over all the different things I do for work.  I’m not simply trying to make it all work, I am making it work.  And that’s pretty awesome.

I’ve been mapping out this Portfolio Life, what it is right now and what I want it to be.  I am excited about it and all the potential it contains.  I process a lot through talking and writing.  These last few weeks have been time of vision and growth and I don’t know what it will look like, but I am excited to find out.

** I know, I coulda/shoulda have planted my winter garden in the greenhouse this autumn, but I didn’t.  There are a few things overwintering, but not at all like I had wanted.  Meh.


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