Single benefits

There are certainly positives to being a single, part-time parent. Although I consider myself a full-time dad, having my kids with me for one week, and then away the next week, means that I am not parenting all the time. And while I miss them terribly when they are not with me, it does open up opportunities for other things.

The things I am referring to are extended periods of time to do what I want to do, hang out with the people I want to hang out with, and generally use my time on understanding and expressing myself however I feel without anybody commenting or influencing me.

I see this as a contrast to when I was married and living with my wife and kids all the time. It was as if we felt we had to do everything together. I can't really remember doing many things by myself during that period, apart from going to work. I don't think I gave my wife the freedom to explore and express herself; I am not sure I could have handled it. And I did not take that on for myself either.

Now that I have been forced into it, I can see that I am able to handle being a solo parent for extended periods of time. It is difficult for sure, but it is possible.

The question that comes to my mind then, is whether this is possible for people who are still in a relationship? Can they give the other parent extended periods of time to explore projects, hang out with friends, go on holidays, while they look after the kids by themselves?

I think it is possible, and could even be better. My retrospective guess at why this is not commonly practised is that there is a fear of losing the other person; that in giving them room and space to be explore themselves, it could mean the end of the relationship. They might discover they want even more freedom, or we might find out we don't like who they truely are.

In having a week to myself every second week I have found great freedom in following my curiosities without constraint. I can imagine that this would be even more exciting and fulfilling (and risky and scary?) if conducted within a relationship.

 

Theory of constraints

Through a series of decisions, some made by me and some made for me, I am coming to a clearer realisation that the work I am doing at the moment needs to be within an arrangement where I am equal, or I am working for myself.

Work in general employment is not going to cut it for now (a decision that was made for me). And I need to go at it alone with my podcast instead of joining a podcast network (a decision I have made for myself).

There is something about not being restricted in my curiosity and creativity that I am holding very dear right now. Nor do I want to be restricted in what I do with my time.

I understand that sometimes these constraints are useful in getting work done, even creative work. Right now the work I need to do, as unclear as it may be, needs to come with constraints that are not imposed upon me by others.

The protection of laziness

I have finished reading Dr Jason Fox's book on how we can change our motivation through how well and consciously we design our work.

One of the side points he makes in the book is that laziness can be seen as a self-preservation exercise. It ensures we do not put effort and energy into things that ultimately do not contribute to our survival or enhance our existence: stopping us from working on goals that we cannot ever achieve.  Way back in the cave day this meant that we put our energy into hunting for food and making shelter, and were lazy for things like perfectly clipping our nails and stylishly cutting our hair.

Today laziness has a bad name. Whilst I agree that laziness as an end state is not helpful to anybody, getting curious about instances where we find ourself being lazy might reveal some interesting insights into how we think and live.

My laziness in my corporate job extended for a number of years. It wasn't that I was so lazy zI stopped showing up, rather I could not summon the will to do it well for extended periods of time. In retrospect, if I was able to get curious about this (instead of feeling guilty about this), I might have realised that my laziness was protecting me from a job that ultimately was not going to bring me satisfaction, and deep down was out of alignment with my values.

I also struggled with laziness and exercise when I stopped playing team sport. I felt guilty for not being able to sustain early morning riding sessions with a bunch of other guys. Once again, a curiosity about my laziness might have revealed that I did not actually get a lot of benefit from solo sports like cycling, and that team sports offered so much more for me as a whole person.

At the lazy time of the year, a cheer for letting our laziness talk to us.

 

Before integration

One of my goals in writing this blog is to be as authentic as I know how to be in writing it each day so that I can explore my own emotions and experiences, and provide an integrated picture of myself to whoever happens to read this.

Today that means writing about the awkwardness of putting on a party for yourself, and not having as many people show up as you would like. 

For me that felt like shame and sadness, and feeling like I had tried and failed. In a way I had, but in a way I hadn't either - the people that were there were awesome and had a great time. And I put a party on for myself, something I am sure I will feel brave about doing in due time.

The thing I am trying to acknowledge and be curious about is the range of emotions that were stirred in doing this party, to grapple with them, and to allow them to change who I am.

I don't feel particularly successful in doing this at the moment. I am trying to lean in, and see what comes of it.

The post I will look back on in years to come

I have put my first podcast out there to a few more trusted friends. I don't know if it is because I am quite sensitive about putting something new out into a small section of the world, or if its because I'm actually not that good. But I am not getting an overwhelming sense that people are having their socks blown off by my work!

I have a confidence though that I can do this. That I can get really good at interviewing people for a podcast. That I can learn and refine my craft over time.

What I think I need to hear from these first few people is something along these lines:

This is a great first podcast. I love the way you ask questions, and I really found it interesting. It is great that you are incorporating a sense of place into the recording, and you will find a way to get the balance with the right amount of noise. Keep working at it. Keep listening to yourself. And keep backing yourself in what you are creating why you are creating it.

Instead what I am getting (or perhaps what I am hearing) is more like this:

Its hard telling a story through audio alone, isn't it? Perhaps you need to edit it a bit. Perhaps your microphones are not that good. Perhaps a bit more polish would be good.

In years to come I will either look back at this post and think that I was quite delusional - podcasting was something I needed to do, but it was not really my thing. Or I will look back and think that this was the start of a great journey of learning, exploring, and creating.