I’ve been running pretty thin lately – it’s an exciting Spring, with several new projects under foot. I’m really excited to finally take some time to share some great news with you. At the same time, it’s been a challenge to make it all happen – and I’m at work, late nights galore, trying to figure out a way to get it all done and maintain the “Sarah sanity” that I so desperately crave.
Happiness and a quick celebration!
For those of you who don’t know, I’ll talk briefly about some exciting news:
1. New Job! I started a new position on March 1st. I’ll be coordinating the communications strategy + marketing at the international landscape architecture firm that I work at. (Whew! That’s a mouthful.) So what do I do? I write, design, and build. I combine business + strategy insights to deliver powerful messages about the meaning and need for landscape architecture and spatial design throughout the world. In the broadest sense, I tell stories about the world we live in – and I love it.
Many of you know that here on this blog, I write about about strategies for work success, staying sane, creating the type of work you want to do, entrepreneurship, and life. I’m very happy to be able to transition to a new position where writing, storytelling, web design, and board layout design are the focus of my job. (As for sanity and balance, sometimes I feel like a terrible example of that – but more on that, below).
Wahoo! Time to do some handstands! :)
2. Also: A REALLY exciting project! One of the projects I’m working on – that I started in early 2010 – is the building of a new website for a hot topic in the architecture world, landscape urbanism. The website is taking shape, and there has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the work we’ve done so far. (If you want to check out the website, take a look at this page). This is my HUGE project that’s finally becoming real.
After work closes – and the new job has started up at high speed! – I’m up late to work on this project: I’m writing, emailing the team, interviewing new writers, talking to contributors, and poring over the web design with a red pen and making changes to the layout and back end before the launch in 2 months (holy shit! so soon!) – but I’m so excited that this project I’ve dreamed about for (now 2 years!) is finally on it’s way to fruition. It will launch in phases this summer.
I am unbelievably thankful and happy to have such great opportunities in front of me so quickly.
Each project is a hundred different, layered lessons in project management, communication, coordination, execution, design layout, user interface, editing, and ultimately, shipping great ideas and products.
The work effort as of late, however, has been immense. I say this not to complain – I can hardly complain about being busy! – but as a means to talk about how difficult it can be to persevere during the really hard moments.
It’s not always easy.
In fact, it’s hardly ever easy. These past few weeks have been exceptionally rough, as I test my limits and mental capacities, my organization skills, my ability to press on, my systems of time management.
I’ll be honest, it gets really hard.
Notes on Loneliness and Sometimes Wanting to Cry
There are nights, like this week, that I get home from work very late, and I open up one of the three (do I admit this?) computers I have at home (multi-browser and computer testing for macs and pcs, they are all OLD!). I’m up late, writing, and I close a browser, pace the house, try to sleep, and then I come back to the little office closet in our apartment and I start writing again, this time polishing up something else new, trying to figure out how I’m going to execute all of the tasks over the next few months.
My brain is a series of multi-layered Excel sheets.
I dream in G-Queues.
My email inbox overflows with hundreds of ‘urgent’ tasks that seem to each yell at me to work more, to work better, to work faster.
I wake up in the middle of the night, teeth grinding, trying to figure out how to get it all done.
Tonight, I sit behind the computer, terrified that I won’t make my next deadline, exhausted from the effort, again skipping an event I’d love to attend and missing my friends.
In the dark moments, in the despair, I sit, unshowered, my back hurting, and I want to cry. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it. I also don’t know if what I imagine will work. I can’t tell yet if any of these projects will be successful.
And I’m really, really tired.
There’s no guarantee that it will all work out. I can try it all and work my hardest and these projects could be ephemeral efforts, lasting less than a few seconds in any memory.
And that’s okay.
At least I hope that it’s okay. That’s what I tell myself.
In these moments, in these wander-through-the-city-I-can’t-sleep-moments, I do wish there was someone could tell me that it’s all gonna be okay. When I was younger, my mom would run her fingers through my hair and she was the one who would tell me would all be okay.
And now we’re twenty, thirty-something, and our parents aren’t there to tell us what’s exactly what’s right and wrong and when to work harder and when to chalk it up to a learning experience.
You just press on, do your best, and figure it out as you go.
Because that’s what it looks like.
Making things happen takes energy, toil, and it tests your patience and endurance. Even if you fail a hundred times before you get there, you will get there. I’m in The Middle somewhere, and I don’t know what the end looks like.
But I know what The Middle looks like.
It’s not the fuzzy good feeling of the beginning, when you’re still high on the adrenaline of starting. And it’s not the calm of the finish, when you’re done and you’ve done the best you can do and you’re proud of your efforts. The Middle is the struggle, when most people give up, when the test between the do-ers and the quitters really takes shape. The Middle is the part, in marathon training, when you have to get up and run again even though your whole body is exhausted and you want to just sleep or stop.
The Middle is the space where your demons come in and question why you’re even doing it, anyways. And sometimes it’s lonely nights, late nights, cereal dinner in hand, falling asleep on my bed so late in the night that the San Francisco skyline has turned pink from the fog’s misty glow. Sometimes it’s a presentation due in 6 hours and only you to figure it out.
Sometimes, my Friday nights are filled simply with books. I sit in my reading chair and I study one of the 12 books my new boss has put on my desk, on advertising, management, business, positioning, branding. I’m scrambling to figure out what I’m doing while implementing new processes and the pace of change is sometimes maddening. It’s like an MBA in the making – and I love it – but learning and doing all at once feels something like balancing two intense full time jobs.
The Middle is hard. There’s no way out but through.
I have the blessing of having been through this before, something inside me that knows that The Middle is the hard part and is able to trust in the process. My experience tells me that I won’t be in this hustle forever. The cyclical nature of production will yield a few moments of respite, hopefully soon, hopefully sometime midsummer, post launch.
And for my own sanity’s sake, I have to carve out moments of escape, rest, and a break – in order to do my best work.
But tonight, it’s the grind. Because that’s what The Middle looks like.
So, reader, have a beer for me tonight. And enjoy your wonderful St. Patty’s day. I’m somewhere in The Middle, working.—
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