Freelance Feast or Famine: Am I living the sweet life, or am I back in college studying for finals and shoving Ramen down my throat?

If you’re a freelancer or have friends or family who freelance, you’ve heard the term “feast or famine.” Basically, it seems to be the trend that all the projects and work come at once, and this is why you’re supposed to be a master budgeter, to shore yourself over for the dry spells in between the projects. But really, we’re all trying for balance. Feast or famine is not the ideal, though it is a very real trend—the late nights, the early mornings, the overtime weeks of “feasting.”

So a few weeks ago in the morning I was putting away the groceries from the night before, still in bags because it was one of those “feast” weeks, which essentially meant too-many hours behind the computer, Lean Cuisine tuna-noodle casseroles, and switching between Starbucks full-caff to Folgers half-caff in the evenings—or, just getting through the deadlines while remembering to feed myself and shower.

What kind of a life is that?

Am I living the sweet life, or am I back in college studying for finals and shoving Ramen down my throat? 

No no no.

Truthfully, we all go through seasons when we have to work harder and smarter, when things slide. Maybe we’re new parents or starting our business or juggling work and school, what have you. But here I am a few years into my business, not rolling in the dough yet but confident in my abilities, building connections, having people reach out to me for advice about the field, and I am STILL going weeks on end not taking a walk or getting any exercise, running on little sleep, and letting my apartment become a reenactment of a frat house from Revenge of the Nerds (yeah, that’s the movie that came to mind—don’t judge—that scene at the end with the keyboard is amazing!).

Anyways, here I was in my kitchen, putting away the pantry groceries that had been there (okay, the truth) two days (three?), and I saw the box of pancakes. And I thought—

“I could totally make those pancakes.”

“Right now. With the blueberries in the fridge. And the good maple syrup and the real butter. And then I could totally take a walk afterwards. Other people are in their offices, and I could totally make pancakes and take a lovely walk.”

“And I could do this every day.”

“Why am I not doing this?”

“Why am I not ENJOYING this life I am so blessed to have?” 

Such a simple thing, such a simple moment, but a rare one without the interruptions of social media or noise.

A moment my soul rose up to remind me that life is meant for more than just “getting through” but to be enjoyed, savored, lived.

Yet, sadly, I did not make the pancakes and the lesson remained one I did not put into practice—that is, until a few weeks later, another “feast” week of three courses to edit, a book to finish writing, and other client duties. My head spinning, I walked to my trunk to get my work bag. And it was there that I saw it.

The tennis racket.

It had been sitting in the trunk for many months, waiting for me to take it to the shop to have the handle re-taped. And I thought—

“I could totally play tennis in the middle of the day if I wanted to.”

“And I could do this every day.”

“I am living a life that allows me to do such things.”

“Why am I not doing this?”

So tonight I allowed myself a lovely summer evening walk and to pause to write this blog entry, two practices that feed my spirit.

And I am going to pull out the planner and try, again, for the 9 to 5 schedule, which means planning fun summer things in the evenings (and volunteer work, which has been on my heart lately—helping real flesh-and-blood people in front of me, not behind a computer) and letting my clients realize that I am a human and not a machine. No, I’m not shirking my duties, but I’m planning smarter, prioritizing, and learning that taking a moment to make pancakes, play a tennis game, strum the guitar, have tea with a friend—these things are the stuff of life. This flexibility, this life of letters, I chose it in part because I am a sensitive soul who loves people, the quiet pleasures of reading and writing, a person who wants a simpler life with time to breathe and enjoy my relationships and the outdoors.

Thinking tomorrow morning would be a good morning to make those pancakes…with the real butter and the real maple syrup…maybe even a stroll afterward…

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