Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Work for Free

May 06, 2010

Break_freeI like working at home. I also like working for free. I know you’re sitting there thinking, “What is she talking about?” But it’s true. Years spent in corporate management yielded traveling, high salaries, free hotel rooms, TONS of accumulated mileage, great clothes, shoes, parties. Right, what’s the downside? I also was alone a lot, I missed TONS of family events, my friends and boyfriend(s) moved on when they got tired of waiting for me, and I was a slave to the paycheck. I was also a slave to the corporate culture. I had to act a certain way, be there on time, chant the company lingo and mantra at every opportunity, throw myself on the grenade for the good of the company (someone actually told me to do this once). What can I say? I was young, I needed the money. Or so I thought.

Of course I needed to put food on the table and have decent clothes to wear. Everyone has that need. But what I really needed was the freedom that comes from what I do now. Living my life. I have a strong work ethic and belief in self discipline and delayed gratification. This has served me well and still does. However, this does not mean that it must be used in nine to five circumstances. Since it only took me a couple of decades to figure that out, I was glad I didn’t have kids until I had come to that conclusion. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would have been a horrible mother trying to have it all. 

One day, after 13 straight years in corporate leadership, I turned in my AMEX card and quit. A few days later I began coaching skating, and eventually carved out a career of sorts for myself in the world of figure skating, where most are volunteers. I believed I was headed for creative bliss on the ice and no more desk jobs, yet very shortly after I started this venture, I found myself being pulled into leadership again. It was different this time though. There was no money involved except for coaching. I could set my own hours. I rarely if ever saw my co workers, and I collaborated with people nationwide on projects instead of the daily routine.
I have been going about my life this way for over 12 years now. It’s great! I meet with everyone a few times a year, and the rest of the time, no make up, no dress up, and no early wake up! Well, that last part was true until my triplets came along.  A few days ago I returned from our annual meeting. I am exhausted, but so very satisfied. This morning, sitting on the floor with my kids, feeling like my legs are made of jelly, I smiled, realizing that I could get up and write an email right now to my group and come across as informed and articulate. No one would know how tired I am, or that I am wearing yesterday’s sweats and I have toddler snot on my shirt and smashed Cheerios under my butt (they're a carpet, they're a food, they're a carpet, they're a food . . .). . I like it this way. I work for free. Correction, I work for freedom.

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