One of the funny things about having a ‘blog’—I find you tend to get very introspective. Most of the time I just go through the day just dealing with things as they happen but now that I have an “outlet” so to speak I find myself thinking more about my day, looking for deeper meanings.
Lately I find myself taking a look at my life: how in the world did I end up where I am now? I’m not sure that I would have chosen the life I currently have but if I had made different choices just where would I be now (and would I like that life any better)?
“Work” is one of those choices.
Currently I work in the real estate world. It definitely has its pros and cons. You are (generally) an independent contractor so you set your own hours and are responsible to your self—if you slack off or don’t do the work there is noone to yell at you but you also don’t get paid. You take time off when you need it—you don’t have to clear it with anyone. You pay your own taxes, pay real estate fees (even if you do not sell anything) and for supplies. All income is self-generated. It is the highest paying easy job or the lowest paying hard job—it all depends on the client and your efforts. It most definitely is not a job for the weak of heart or those who are not self motivated; so much of your success or failure depends on the ability to actually do the work—making people believe in you and your ability to sell their house, or find them a new one and get it all done on a timeline that fits their needs. Real estate is a lot like life: only 10 percent is exciting (closing on a house and getting paid), the other 90 percent is tedious but necessary (marketing both yourself and your listings, getting clients, maintaining a presence with mailings and phone calls, showing houses). You are “on call” 24/7 because you just don’t know which call is going to be the one that has a client that will actually be productive. I’ve given up family time to take people out. Many of the people I have spent time with and on have not actually turned in to “paying clients” as they either had no idea of what was involved in buying a house or were owners who thought they wanted to sell but did not want to put in the effort to actually sell their house. Over the years I have gotten better at screening people but there is never a guarantee that your time will end in a transaction and you will actually get paid.
In my previous life I was (well still am) a Registered Nurse. Initially I worked full time but as I had children the hours became part time and eventually per diem (as needed). The hours were long (“12 hour nights” were generally from 6:45 pm until 7:30 am if you were lucky) and the work was hard but you were ‘done’ when your shift was over. There were the occasional mandatory overtime shifts and related educational inservices but I had actual days off. There was sick time, vacation time and a paycheck when you worked. Looking at what I just wrote makes me wonder why I left….oh yes, the politics of working in a hospital can be overwhelming—paperwork must be completed, often the same information on several forms—“if you didn’t write it, you didn’t do it”. Scheduling was not always easy—for the most part we had a ‘pencil schedule’ where everyone put down their preferred shifts and availability—we needed to balance it as much as possible before handing it to the manager to complete. Not so bad for the full and part timers but not always great for ‘per diems’—I was trying to work around my husband’s schedule (he works 12am-8 am) and often would only get scheduled for 1 shift/4 weeks…if I was lucky. Two other things most people don’t think about when they think about being a nurse—emotions and germs. Being a nurse you must have equal parts kindness and resolve. I’ve been the bearer of both good and bad news. Caring for patients from newborn to the old and infirm takes a toll emotionally. You are either saving a life or trying to cheat death…something that did not always end when the shift was over. You can try to leave it at work but often it leaves a mark on your soul and it helps to shape the person you become. Hopefully for the better. The germ issue—I think most people realize there are germs in a hospital—unfortunately we are often exposed without realizing just what they are until later—we take general precautions with each patient but I always wondered what germs I was carrying back to my family. When I finally tendered my resignation it was with equal parts relief and sadness—I loved what I did and was good at it but it had taken its toll both emotionally and physically.
So in hindsight which was/is the better career choice? I am trying to get back into nursing at this point for a more stable financial picture but I also want to maintain the real estate aspect in my life. Can there be a balance? I love both jobs—I help people move forward in their lives in very different ways. I also need to consider the impact both jobs have on my family life. I am married (22 years in less than 2 weeks) and have two teenage daughters as well. The real estate has allowed me to work around everyone’s schedule and needs but has also had its financial impacts –when it is slow I must draw on savings. The nursing however had allowed me to provide financially but had its impact on time—away for long periods and then having to play ‘catch-up’ with sleep, house and family when I was off.
So maybe I am where I was meant to be—the nursing helped to make me a success at real estate—organized, patient, understanding of fears, while the real estate has allowed me to be available for family and friends and has helped me appreciate the challenges of being a nurse and actually getting compensated for the hours I work.
Can I find balance between a family, real estate and nursing? Only time will tell…but when I look at all the good things in my life I am very grateful; I know I am where I am supposed to be at this time in my life: a wife, a mother, a friend. The rest–its just the icing on the cake.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a Home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Melody Beattie (Quoted in “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach)