Checking in

I realize it’s only been a few days since I last posted, but it feels longer than that. Or maybe it’s because so much of my posts have had to do with either The Green Mountain Relay or weird keywords people use to get to this site. It doesn’t feel like a site about my training anymore.

Maybe that’s because what I’ve been doing lately hardly qualifies as training. I’ve more been throwing in a few quality runs between races. I think I’ve raced something like 13 races so far this year (more like 16 if you could GMR as three races, which I kinda do). I’m not sure because I haven’t posted a report for every single one on the Races page. That, along with the Stats page, has been somewhat neglected.

Why all the neglect, you ask? Well, I’ve been working my ass off, for one thing. I’ve run my own little company since 1995. We have many clients, but for the past seven years one — IBM — has dominated my workdays. I’ve basically been a FT freelancer for them all this time, helping to manage one of their websites. In addition to that, I do lots of other editorial-related work for other people. So working 50-60 hours per week (sometimes more) has become the norm during many months of the year.

Jonathan works on his own projects most of the time (he’s the other half of my corporate empire of two). If we’re lucky, which is about 20% of the time, we get to work on projects together, which means we can have arguments over lunch, followed by accusations of sexual harassment. (I’ve often said that we could really clean up with a lawsuit against ourselves. Although the costs for defense would probably bankrupt us.)

About a month ago  I reached a couple of tipping points. For one, I realized that most of the freelance clients we had that were not IBM were paying us a great deal more than I was making working for them. I could slave away from them for 40 hours, or work for someone else for 20 or less and still come out ahead. I was finding that I had to turn down work to accommodate my 9-5 gig, and that was frustrating from a business standpoint.

Then I launched Houston Hopefuls while at the same time pursuing other running journalism projects (I hope to get paid for my first one soon). Those projects are quite time consuming. So in addition to 60+ hour weeks, I was piling on another 10-20 for these other interests, usually feeling too mentally drained to focus on them properly when I was working on them.

Where was the time left for basics, like, well, running, for one thing? And then there are other things like shopping, cleaning, paying bills, filing forms, hiring people to fix problems with our house. We were slipping into what I call “Our Lives Are Falling Apart Mode.” Mung gathers on the bathroom sink, the cat goes checkup/shotless, and we eat boring dinners that can be cooked in 15 minutes. I can tolerate living this way for limited periods, but lately it was becoming the norm, with no relief in sight. That was not acceptable.

So a week ago Monday I took a big step and dropped IBM as a client. I’m still working for them through mid-July at reduced hours, to tie up loose ends on projects, but I’m basically out of there. I may eventually work for them again in a purely editorial capacity — but that’s probably at least a year down the road, since the consensus seems to be that it will take that long for the people in the fancy chairs to realize they may have cut too deep and need to start rehiring.

Now I’m doing writing, editing and content strategy full time, having jettisoned the last vestiges of my somewhat fuzzy job description that basically amounted to web project manager/traffic cop. I am very happy with this new state of affairs. I love writing and the work I’m doing now (a lot of technology and finance writing for some big corporate clients) is interesting and even fairly creative at times. So my mind is engaged, but now it should only be taxed for around 40 hours a week, leaving lots more hours and brain cell processing cycles for other projects.

This week I worked Monday but I’m off until Sunday (when I need to get rolling on a freelance thing that’s due on Tuesday). Yesterday I got back to work on Houston Hopefuls, editing one interview and prepping for the next one. Today I’ll work on the interviews I did with the elites at the Mini 10K, even though they are quite late in coming. I hope they’re still of interest, since my questions were not related to that race per se. Then we spend a few days with family members whom I should have seen much earlier than this.

Last week felt like a watershed of sorts. I spent the previous weekend up in Vermont taking part in an event that was all-consuming. I was having a great time and didn’t have the mental space to think about anything else. But it was fun being there and knowing I was going to give myself some relief on Monday in the form of dropping IBM, and in doing so definitively reprioritize some things that are important to me.

Last but not least, the one nagging worry (besides ending up a bag lady, but that’s always there) was put to rest yesterday. Before the relay I’d gotten called back for a followup ultrasound after an iffy mammogram. At 40 I hit the age in which regular mammograms are expected. Now, at 45, I’m in False Positives territory. Everyone I know has them, and ruling things out is a matter of one unpleasant (and often invasive, painful or both) procedure or another. For me, it was getting an ultrasound and watching as the technician honed in on what appeared to be a grandfather clock in my left tit. She must have taken at least 200 glamor shots of it, with lots of circling and note-taking thrown in, just in case the drunken or glaucomic radiologist missed it. As I wrote to a friend, it was something so obvious that it was practically waving at us.

I braced myself for another round of breast mauling upon my return from Vermont. And at one point I found myself thinking, “Wouldn’t it suck if I had this great weekend, dropped a job I’ve been unhappy in for several years, got this running journalism thing going — and then learned I had cancer?” Yes, that would suck. On a truly colossal scale. I tried to put it out of my mind.

So, in addition to everything else good that’s happening these days, add in the absence of a very bad thing.

It’s a beautiful day today — the humidity is gone and it’s actually cool outside. Time for a run.

17 Responses

  1. This is all great news! Nothing but good news. Refreshing. Have a good day. =)

  2. Yay. And nice job burying the lead.

  3. If you and I stay in this cycle, maybe we can have matching boobie posts annually.

    I’m so happy for the leaving of IBM. Congratulations.

  4. Fabulous…. you tend to give a girl thoughts of re-evaluation – of training, life, etc. 🙂

  5. I get ultrasound almost every time I go now. The first time was very frightening because you’re terrified you have something, now it’s just annoying.

  6. See, that’s the problem with actually having boobs. Seriously though, all great news. And my friend asked tonight “who is that funny woman on your FB page?” obv it was you.

  7. Isn’t it technically a “false negative” ?

  8. No wonder you’ve been absent, you have so much going on! It all sounds great. Hopefully, things will settle down a bit for you real soon.

  9. Holy guacamole, you’ve been busy. Sadly, I can relate to the “our lives are falling apart” mode. I find a good OCD weekend can do wonders for getting things back in line. I’m due for one of those myself right now. Glad your boobs have been declared safe.

  10. What a great post, Julie. You inspire happiness and envy all at once. Keep it up.

  11. Time for another check-in Julie. How’s the running going?

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