It happened again two weeks ago. I nearly set myself down the same destructive path of stress that I sought to avoid by becoming my own boss. All the symptoms came rushing back -- the giant knot in the middle of my back, the chronic headaches, the hives, inability to sleep and a constant upset stomach. I thought I had learned the lesson that life is far too short to allow myself to be physically ill over work.
But I relapsed just as my counselor years ago warned might happen.
There simply weren't enough hours in the day to accomplish my work, let alone be a wife and mother. Granted all was complicated by the loss of my computer. Regardless, I was rapidly coming unglued. And when the pain in my chest started rising in the middle of a interview I knew I had pushed myself too far. Only this time I knew what was happening. So I sat in my car, took many deep breaths, put on a little Van Morrison and closed my eyes to the sun. I had a steady diet of coffee and Altoids for a week straight. It was time to get on the treadmill, drink plenty of water, eat well and not set foot in the office after dinner or on the weekends.
This weekend I spent a lot of time outside, playing with my boys. And it was just what I needed. Something about fresh air seems to clear the brain of all the clutter. I've come to some difficult decisions about some of the work I'm doing. I love writing. But the constant drain of one project was leaving my creative vessel utterly empty. And that's a frightening place for a creative person to find herself.
I was warned that the big steady paycheck may not be nearly enough for the time involved. And that's indeed the case. I've learned the hard way that I'll either have to substantially increase my fees or simply pass on the project in 2005.