Words: Kayleen McCabe
Photos: AndreyPopov, Kwangmoozaa, ALotofPeople
Its 3:30 am. I’m curled on my couch, wrapped in a heavy robe with a heating pad on my back because I enjoy keeping my house a cool 58 degrees. But it snowed last evening and the house is particularly cold. Off in the distance, I can hear my boyfriend and our dog having a neck and neck competition to see who can win tonight’s snoring contest. Usually, I am in there vying for the championship, but I am wide-awake because I need to write an article about work/life balance that’s due in 36 hours.
Is this the work/life balance people talk about? For me, I guess it is.
When I was three or four years old, my parents started instilling in me a strong work ethic, albeit initially through sarcasm. When I would go out to play, they would jokingly say, “Write when you find work!” This confused me tremendously because they knew my handwriting was awful. Then as an older child, I was encouraged to earn money so I could buy the things I wanted.
I spent many summers in the front yard selling lemonade, and once I mastered the use of the iron, I filled the high demand for custom-made puffy paint shirts— hooray to the ’90s. So, it was natural that when I didn’t go to college, I already had a mindset to find employment.
Something that we don’t emphasize enough is: Your first job won’t be your last, you won’t be in love with every job you have, and there is a big difference between a job and a career. In my work experience, I have been blessed to have had a variety of exciting jobs. I have worked for the Mayor’s office, was a Mad Scientist— it helped that I love to perform and am mildly goofy. I have worked as a 911 dispatcher, delivered newspapers —being a natural morning person helped. I have waited tables —everyone should work in a restaurant at some point in their lives. I was even a call-in psychic (and I’m not psychic).
Let’s just say that at one point, my parents were wondering if I was challenging myself to see how many W-2’s I could collect in a year. Also, the majority of my working time has been with multiple jobs at once. For me, this has had great benefits.
1. If you work all the time, it’s harder to spend money
2. Having multiple sources of income can give you the opportunity to switch jobs.
3. Switching jobs could lead you to careers that you love.
The careers that I have been in have truly made my heart sing. My first was working with my Dad doing probation and community service supervision, the second was construction, and the third and current is Television/Public Speaker for workforce development. All three of these careers have had long hours, short or no weekends, been stressful, constantly challenging my knowledge, and have all been 100% worth it. Let’s face it, the majority of our day is spent working, why not find something that you love?
That’s not to say that I work all the time, well, I try not to. Right now, I am in a career that really energizes me. Folks wonder how I travel so much and have so much energy (200+ trips in 2019), and it is because spreading the message of — “There are multiple pathways to success, college is just one of them, give the Trades a try!” is something that I am so passionate about that it keeps me up at night. Sometimes I wonder if my friends and family are going to stage an intervention because my passion has often seemed to a borderline obsession.
For the last eight years, I have had the blessed opportunity to travel the world and chat with anyone who will listen about the value of working in the Trades. Not only is there a tremendous need in the economy right now with pursuing a career in the crafts. But there is also immense pleasure in being able to create art through a variety of mediums — masonry, 2×4’s, concrete, heck even flour and sugar— All Trades are art! Did you make the painting or the wall to hang it on?
So, where is my “life” in all of this work? Traveling satisfies a lot of my “life” needs. Having a love for construction, it is so enjoyable to visit different cities and appreciate the architecture and history in them. I am often inspired by these adventures and have used some of these sparks to design furniture pieces. Beyond the buildings, meeting new folks is truly fantastic! I feel very lucky to say that I have wonderful friends around the globe and they have exposed me to new cultures and delicious food. Also, who doesn’t love people watching at the airport?!
But. let’s also be realistic. It is impossible to be on-the-go constantly, so when I am home, I incorporate a lot of quieter activities into my routine. I am a rabid builder of Legos and Metal Earth puzzles, enjoy cooking and baking, and try to spend as much time as possible in my shop experimenting or tinkering on projects. I believe that having hobbies is critically important to a good balance in life. Would my work/life balance work for everyone? Heck no. But I am happy, and it is a perfect fit for me.
In the process of writing this article, I googled, “Are there books on Work-Life Balance?” There were 2.5ish million results. That really made me laugh. Clearly, I am no expert in this subject matter, but here is my hypothesis. There is no one universal balance for everyone, and this balance is ever-evolving. So, while you are figuring out your own life/work balance, drink lots of water, eat your vegetables, and try to laugh once a day.