Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm Stepping Back a Bit from Many Things, and This is Why

sunrise: downtown denver
Over the last few days, I realized something about myself that maybe I've always known but was never really able to put into words. I have this tendency to fall in love with other peoples' dreams. I get high on others' excitement of their dreams and I want to see those things happen with them. I get carried away. I want to be involved and be a part of a team that sees those dreams to success. As a result of this, I add everything I can to those dreams, often multiple dreams of others at once, until I feel pretty depleted. Lately, I have been flaking out on many things (and by lately, I mean something like the last five years or more) and I have had to ask myself why the flaking happens.

see. i wasn't kidding. this is saved stuff to sift through and to work on.
I have boxes upon boxes of unfinished work of my own in the closet; recordings (scratch tapes, drafts, poem snippets, etc.), journals, parts of stories, images, and even more ideas I haven't even written down yet. I want to get in shape, be able to travel, and create something meaningful. I want a windowsill garden, and to take better care of myself. I want to create substantial means for myself, maybe even a name in music and writing, perhaps in some other areas, as well. I would love for the writing and music and other projects to bring in some of the means I seek.

The thing is, I have been giving away most of my time minus the time I spend making a small means and sleeping.

I had been doing a lot of unaccounted for free and gift-based work for some non-profits, friends, and other artists in social media management and consulting as a way to experientially learn the trade since about last winter. I called this my internship and I was pretty happy to do all that work. I learned a lot, gained some trackable results, and even gained some references, as well.  At some point, however, something in me changed. I felt that depletion I've mentioned. I felt a little used, maybe, a little taken advantage of as the demands of this work increased. I wasn't sure why I felt this. I'd chosen projects that I was really excited about, and I'd chosen people to work with whom I adored.  I wanted to give my all. Still, the depletion. I woke up mornings with dread and simply no longer wanted to do any of it, especially after I'd figured out just how much time I was giving.

some new work i have been working on. nope. you can't see it yet.
Two or three months ago, a dear friend gave me some tips on learning how to bill. I considered this the next step in my internship, as I wanted to figure out how to market the skills and knowledge that I had been accumulating, or at least keep track of my pro bono work for tax purposes. I took out a notebook and a pen at the beginning of the month and began keeping track. I logged the projects and the hours spent while learning about how much people get paid to do the work. I learned that while my paying job took up about 120 hours of my month (which barely sustains me at present -- last month I deposited my laundry quarters into the bank to barely make my rent) my unpaid work added up to just as much time, if not more. Further, I was paying some money out of pocket to accomplish certain things required of the volunteer and gift-based work.

What I was doing was not sustainable. While there are many things I want to support, I have to really pull back and pay attention first to my own needs. I have to figure out ways to self-sustain and better so that I can have more to give without depleting myself or pulling the carpet out of the role of any project I may be assisting or heading. Further, regarding my own dreams: How much should I give and for how long before I can finally sit down and get to my own dreams? I have work to do but it can't all be in giving it away no matter how much I love someone, their project, their goals, their agenda, their dreams. <3 br="">

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