Achieving a Work-Life Balance and How I Still Suck At It

My radio silence over the past week has not been intentional. I have a stockpile of recipes that I’ve patiently been waiting to share with you and somehow, an entire week just passed by with nada. Nothing! Not a single recipe. August and these first weeks of September have been unexpectedly and expectantly packed. Two trips, three visits from family visiting from out of town, and outside work projects have made it really hard to focus on this space as much I’d like to. It’s a constant balancing act and one that I’m still struggling to figure out.

Work-life balance can be a very tricky thing.

Work-Life Balance

One of my goals over the past year (and something I promised myself when I transitioned to blogging full-time) was to create a better work-life balance. Prior to this, I was balancing a 50-hour a week job, commuting two hours a day in the worst traffic imaginable, and spending nearly all of my free time desperately trying to create recipes and keep up with this space. It was a choice that I was consciously making and one I would make again, but it was taking a toll on me.

As crazy as it sounds, I was constantly beating myself up for not being more of a workaholic. I always felt like I could be doing more. Always more. Why? Because everyone else around me appeared to be managing it all (and a zillion other things) a million times better than I ever could. Truthfully, it still feels this way. When I wasn’t working on the blog, I felt guilty and lazy and when I was working on the blog, I inevitably felt guilty for not spending more time with my family and friends.

I was spending too much time on my phone or computer, or thinking about how I hadn’t posted in a few days (and was disappointing you), or desperately trying to capture moments with my camera, but not really living in the moment. Does that make sense?

As much as I love all of you (in a non-creepy way) and this space (so, so much!), I’ve come to the realization, after a few years, that I don’t want my life to be defined by work. I simply don’t function well this way. It’s not in my DNA and honestly, this type of lifestyle doesn’t make me a very enjoyable person to be around. Does that make me a bad blogger? Maybe. Could I be more successful–however you define that word–if I did function this way? Probably.

Truthfully, I don’t know.

Bloomingdales Trail Chicago

I feel so incredibly lucky and grateful to have the resources and opportunity to do work that I find incredibly fulfilling. On the same note, I don’t want to wake up when I’m 80 years old and have regrets. It was why I made the difficult decision not to go to nursing school so many years ago (and instead, enrolled in culinary school), one of the reasons why I left the restaurant world, and the number one reason why I felt it was necessary to take the plunge and try to do this thing–whatever that may be–full-time.

I needed to find that balance again. Have I achieved it? No. I’m not even close. It is something I struggle with daily and truthfully, I’m not sure if I’ll ever figure it out. This is a one-woman show and I’m human.

When we moved to Chicago three months ago, achieving a better work-life balance became even more of a priority for me. With Connor working extremely long hours and not living in close proximity to family, I want to be present when family has the chance to visit from out of town, during Connor’s scheduled vacation time, and when days call for putting down the computer and simply enjoying life. Doing these things recharges me, inspires me, and ultimately allows me to continue to do, or at least attempt to do, my best work. But sometimes things get crazy, I can’t get as ahead on work as I intend to and things go by the way side. It has taken time to understand and acknowledge that beating myself up about it (as easy as it is to do) doesn’t make a me a better wife, friend, sister, sister-in-law, daughter, or daughter-in-law. It certainly does not make me a better blogger.

Over the past five years, I’ve come to the healthy realization (although, I probably couldn’t always say this) that my success and work is and should not be defined by page views, the number of social media followers I have, or whether or not my recipes go viral on Pinterest.

My number one goal is to be authentic, share recipes that make me (and more importantly, you!) excited, share my passion for cooking and photography, and connect with my readers. My proudest moments have been when I’ve received comments, emails, or messages from you. Your generosity, kindness, and willingness to trust me in the kitchen blow me away on a regular basis. Just the other day, I received an incredibly kind email from a fellow Chicago resident (hi Patti!), who had noticed my trepidation regarding Chicago winters, and generously shared tons of ideas, places, and acitvities that Connor and I can visit and do during the upcoming winter months. I mean, how freaking amazing is that?!

Ohio Dairy Farms

Why am I even talking about this? As I was traveling home from a work trip this Wednesday, I listened to this podcast episode and it struck a chord with me. Honestly, I’m not even sure why, but I felt compelled to bring up the topic of work-life balance (and my continual struggle with it) and just lay it all out on the table. Whether it’s scary or not (it is always a bit nerve-wracking to hit “publish” on posts like these), I want to be as transparent with you all as much as possible.

So, if you’ve ever experienced this yourself or are a fellow blogger struggling to figure out how to do it all just know that I’m right there with you. And a huge thank you to all of you for being so patient and supportive of me, my inconsistent blogging schedule at times, and being here. It means so, so much to me!

On that note, if you have any amazing advice, tips, or resources on how you’ve managed to do it all, please share your wisdom with the rest of us! Hope you all have a great weekend!