December 31, 2010: the moment it all went downhill. As everyone rang in the New Year, I dealt with my first weekend on-call. My previous job as a medical social worker required on-call but it did little to prepare me for the realities of on-call at a pediatric hospital. My worst fears were realized that holiday weekend. I'm not being overdramatic when I describe it as hell. Somehow I survived, knowing that I would not be staying at my job as long as I'd originally thought.
A month later I decided to pick up the novel I'd started writing a year previous. I started over and promised myself this time I would see it through.
But here lay the problem. Work exhausted me. The WIP was delegated to the weekend, Saturday mornings to be specific. And so a few hundred words there, another hundred words there, it slowly took shape.
This slow process frustrated me. However, I couldn't summon the energy to do anything about it. Even blog posts began to suffer as work demanded more than I could give.
What was the alternative though? It killed me that I couldn't write the way I needed to but writing did not pay the bills. My job did. Clearly, my job won.
Or did it? Who said I needed to stay at my job? When did I sacrifice my dreams at the expense of a monthly paycheck and some benefits?
Don't get me wrong. There were aspects of work that I enjoyed and a regular paycheck is not something to scoff at. I realized, though, that social work held me hostage.
I'd turned into a homebody with no energy to express myself creatively. I didn't recognize the person I'd become. So I did something about it.
I slept the best I had in months, possiby years, the first two weeks after my last day of work. No longer carrying others' burdens will have that effect, I suppose. More than that, I suddenly had freedom to express and create and to reclaim myself.
And create I have. Since my last day of work, my WIP's word count has increased nine times the original amount. I've also written 10 other guest posts, along with pieces for The Well Written Woman, not to mention a few blog posts every week.
I've picked up old sewing projects, scrapbooked, picked up a painting job or two, and plan to rehab a piece of furniture I bought at a flea market last year.
I've never felt more alive and active. More importantly, I have more of myself to give. I've become a better friend. I'm also figuring out how to incorporate activities I'd held off on- volunteering, excercising- because of my work-related exhaustion.
Stepping back to reassess my priorities clearly revealed my passions and interests. And I'm a better person for it.
In May 2010, Leigh Kramer intentionally uprooted her life in the Chicago suburbs by moving to Nashville in an effort to live more dependently on God. She writes about life in the South, what God has been teaching her, and her ongoing quest for the perfect fried pickle. She is currently writing her first novel. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and her blog HopefulLeigh