Flex Both Muscles

I feel like I lead two separate lives.

In my day job as an architect, I deal with the details.  I have to pay attention to the physical world around me.  I have to know how things go together and why they work.  Sometimes this is not easy for me.  It's not my natural mindset.

My natural inclination is to ignore the world around me and get lost in the inner world of my own mind.  

So that is what I do in my second life.  I get lost in my own little world of reading and writing and decorating cakes and sketching and painting and whatever else suits my fancy in the moment.  This is where I feel most like ME.  

Since my second life is so easy and comfortable for me, I've considered on many occasions giving up on  my first life altogether so that I can be in isolated bliss and devote 100% of my energy and effort to my creativity.

But something keeps me coming back for more.  I'm not sure exactly what, maybe its the challenge.  Maybe the mystery.  It's certainly not the money, although a steady income is nice. 

The truth is, although I complain a lot about my "real" job, I'm not happy without it.  I need that challenge to be happy.  It's not easy, in fact its downright difficult for me sometimes to force myself into that mindset.  But that challenge is what makes me feel alive.  That challenge is what makes my other life so fulfilling.  That challenge is often what enables the other, easier life; it provides ideas for my writing, it allows me to so thoroughly enjoy retreating into my own inner world and getting lost in my creativity.  It's my laboratory for life and learning.  It is my inspiration.

Also, If it weren't for my studies and my efforts and my hard work in my career in architecture, I would be DRASTICALLY UN-rounded. (That's the opposite of WELL-rounded, in case you were wondering).  I would be freakishly oblong.  I would be grossly deficient in common sense and spatial reasoning.  I would not know anything about the simple beauty of math and physics or the natural order of the universe, the beauty of the earth and seasons and how the world works.  

I had to fight for that knowledge.  I had to FIGHT for every minute of time that I devoted to learning this stuff.  I had to step outside of my head, my safe place, my comfort zone, my imagination, and I had to work really hard.  I still have to work really hard.  Every single day.  

But that is what makes it worthwhile.  That is why my career is so valuable to me, because it wasn't just handed to me, I didn't stumble upon it.  I worked for it.

So my point in sharing all of this with you is this:  maybe you are facing something in your life that is downright hard work.  Maybe you're struggling with how heavy it all is, maybe you're wishing and dreaming of a life where everything is easy and flows so you can ride the waves of good fortune and luck and EASE.  Maybe you want to not have to work so hard for JUST ONE DAY.  

I get it.

But ask yourself what it truly is that makes you happy.  Would you still have the same motivation, the same drive, if everything in your life was easy?  Would you still possess the qualities that you love most about yourself if everything in your life had been handed to you on a silver platter?  Probably not.  It's one of mine and Dan's favorite soap boxes to discuss how hard we have had to work.  We both worked our way through college and grad school.  We both drove crappy cars and ate ramen noodles and easy mac to save money.  We both scrounged by, with little help from our parents, not because they didn't want to help and support us, but because they didn't have the extra to give.  And we both survived.  We both learned the value of a dollar and the meaning of a good work ethic.  And while we both may have wished that hard work away while we were in the middle of it, we both take great pride in it now.  I bet you will too.

Because I know that the most treasured things in life are the things that we have to work the hardest for.  The easy stuff is great, but it's also easier to take it for granted.  The hard stuff won't let you forget the work.  The hard stuff sticks with you.  

What about you?  What have you had to work the hardest for in you life?  Would you trade all of that hard work for the easy road if you could?  

Till next time,


© Haley McManigal 2016

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My new "Month to Month Plan", why didn't I think of this sooner!

Photo by Author

Photo by Author

I have this new thing in 2014 where I’m devoting a month at a time to different activities.  I call it my “Month to Month Plan”.   January was devoted to getting my blog up and running and working on some artwork.  February was all about my cake for the Great Cake Bake.  In March I am going to focus on getting started on renovating our old house in Maryville and studying for my LEED exam.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t do anything else in those months, only that the major focus is on one or two things.  I do plan to continue writing my blog posts every week.  That will be one constant throughout the entire year.  I am happy with this system so far.  It allows me to focus all of my attention in a certain area and not worry that everything else will fall off my radar, because I have the other stuff scheduled for another month.  It is great and has relieved a lot of stress for me, and guilt that I’m abandoning some of my passions.  This is helping me to squeeze in a little of everything in an organized way, and in a large enough time frame that I am actually accomplishing something before moving on to the next thing.  You can really get a lot done in a month when you’re only doing one or two things (and all of this is done in my spare time of course, I’m leaving out my day job and exercise and other constant stuff).  I actually wish that I had thought of this years ago.  I have always struggled with trying to find the time to do all of the different hobbies and things that I want to do.  And one month is the perfect amount of time for me to devote to a hobby before I start getting bored or burned out and ready to move on to the next thing .

            I’m interested in learning how other people  juggle a variety of different interests.  If you have a great method for balancing different areas of your life, please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you! 

Tit for Tat

Everything in life is a tradeoff.  I learn this more and more every day.  There is no way to have it all, at least not all at the same time.  If you want more time at home with your kids, that means less time for work and thus, probably less money.  If you want quiet time in the morning before work, that is less time in the evening before bed. Want to make time to exercise? Sure!  Just forget about those dinners out with your friends.  You want that sexy bikini body?  No problem, but don’t even think about eating those potato chips and cookies.  Everything has a price, the tricky part is figuring out what is worth it to you.  In the words of Mumford and Sons:  “do not ask the price I pay, I must live with my quiet rage, tame the ghosts in my head, that run wild and wish me dead…”  We never know what kind of price someone else is paying or what they are trading for their happiness… but just remember that it is probably expensive!