Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

This post is brought to you by the letter "R"

Fresh when it gets here from Julie Barrett
Friday, December 22, 2023

Why yes, it is the year-end round-up post! There is much to ruminate on, and I'll rest when this is done. I promise!

First up is year-end business revenue. Well, I'm at a loss for words here, as well as dollars. Steam Cat is not precisely in financial ruin, but it will go there if I don't do something.

Which brings us to responsibility. I have taken on too much, and life has only been more complicated in the last three years. it was already headed that way in 2016 when my mother passed away and I was tasked with managing the estate along with more family duties. Then I may as well address the pachyderm in the room, my volunteer job. For it has become almost a full-time job, and between it and my other obligations, my creative life has been put on hold. Regrets? You bet. There are many times I should have said no to taking on additional tasks and I should have delegated more. But the fact is, that 2000 was the start of a bad period for a lot of people. Some got sick. Some had family members to take care of. And we had contractual obligations that had to be met. A lot of work fell upon a few people. And last year was rough for me on that front. I left our last event feeling like I'd been through the wringer (not an "r" word, but it's close!). 

It used to be that I felt a sense of accomplishment every year. It was a boost for me to know I'd done a good job - and to hear that from other people. Last year I was taking a beating from all sides. When I say that my superpower is taking the blame, that went from a joke to a reality. There's a line in Thomas Benjamin Wild, Esq's song "I've No More F*cks To Give": "I've exhausted all my energies for minimal recompense." No, I don't expect payment, but there's no reward in working one's tail off in return for nothing. When even the sense of accomplishment is gone, what's left? Responsibility dreams, that's what. Every single night I'm getting raked over the coals or being rebuffed by my peers because that's happened all to often in real life. Is it any wonder I wake up dreading the next rejection? All I ask for is some respect, and even that is gone. I don't even respect myself because I know a lot of the blame for the place I'm in right now falls squarely on my shoulders. 

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it. I just didn't expect all the extra pressure of the last few years and seeing no way out. I need to make my own. No one else is going to do it for me.

So, I made the decision in the middle of the year to retire from non-creative and non-family responsibilities. I'm trying to ease my way out. I don't want to quit abruptly and leave people holding the bag. Goodness knows that's happened to me often enough, and is a source of many an anxiety dream. 

I want to focus on the things that make me happy. I need to get back to the creative life. I require time to do that. I want to attend events and conventions and have fun again. And it would be really nice to make a profit again. I don't need billions. I just need to know I'm not throwing my time and money down a hole. But not the rabbit hole. I look forward to many a research-related dive in the future!

I should end on a hopeful note. We took a vacation in September, and I returned feeling renewed, rested, and refreshed. Then it was as though nothing had changed. I'm ready to feel good again, but this means some life changes, and relinquishing some of my responsibilities is part of that. And you know what else? Since I told the people in the organization I work with that I'm ready to retire the responsibility dreams have dialed way back. My heart isn't racing all day as I wonder how I'm going to accomplish everything on my plate before it gets heaped up again. 

I rejoice that I've taken this step, and hope for a better year ahead. In the meantime, I'm taking a week off for recovery. Hope y'all get some rest over the holiday as well.

Filed under: Life            

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