On Baked Goods, Gardening, And Cultivating Career

You already know the writing of Carinn Jade from her popular website Welcome to the Motherhood, as well as her pieces from Mommyish and the New York Times.  She’s the real deal– real writer, real Mom, real lawyer, real friend.  I could go on, but let’s hear from her as she embarks on a new chapter in her careers with a heart full of acceptance and a future as bright as a cluster of stars on clear summer night.

* * * *

Lately I’ve been struggling.  I’ve also been succeeding.  I’ve been picking and choosing and placing and planning.  Through this process I’ve been visualizing what’s really important in my life.  I imagined myself as a pie with three thick slices*.  Fill it with whatever pleases you (mine is peach cream) but picture it.

image credit: weareoregon.com

image credit: weareoregon.com

 

(*Note: there are other slices of my identity such as wife, yogi, dysfunctional twitter user, but those are firmly established.  The three slices below are the ones I’ve been struggling with over the past few years.)

One slice of me is a mom.  The kind that gets down on the floor to play cars, who runs over the jungle gym bridges, and who delights in making my kids laugh by doing crazy things.  I have enjoyed my days at home with my children without a shred of regret.  That’s not to say I haven’t lost my shit on occasion or doubted my ability to be a full-time parent, but I never regretted giving up my career in finance for them.  For the most part I was exhausted but happy, even more so when I became a freelancer who channeled that leftover longing into writing.  Which brings me to the next slice.

Another part of me is a writer.  I have written all over the internet about myself, my struggles in motherhood, and my opinion on popular headlines from a parent’s point of view.  Since December I have also written two very shitty first draft (a la Anne Lamont’s perfect phrase) novels.  The first one was DOA, but I am in love with the second and am revising my heart out.  I recently pitched an agent who requested a full before I had to admit I didn’t have a full.  I do have a polished 50 pages that I am willing to show and I let that fly today.

Another part of me is a lawyer.  I spent almost 20 years either dreaming of, studying to be, or actually being a lawyer.  I’ve spent the past 4 years trying to reject it.  I was disillusioned by the lack of women role models and simply didn’t have it in me to put in the number of hours it would require to break that glass ceiling over a lawyer trying to be successful in finance.  As a mother of two young kids, honestly, I just didn’t think I had it in me.  I have regretted that a lot in the past year and many of my Mommyish posts revealed my struggle.  While I was happy in my personal choice, I felt I was letting down all female lawyers, or at the very least my daughter if she ever wanted to practice law and have a family.  I had opted out and blamed the culture (which is partially to blame) instead of continually trying to change it or finding a better fit.  That time is over.  I start full time next week with the law firm that gave me my start right after law school.

I know what you are thinking.  This is a lot of crazy shit.  Going back to the law full time after my writing career really gained traction — how does that make any sense?  You’re thinking “blow up that three-piece pie, Carinn, because something’s gotta give.”

It’s true, things will change.  But I am hoping it’s mostly my analogy.  A pie, I’ve realized, is a fully baked and completed product.  Which I am not.  I am more like a farmer growing a vegetable garden.  I’ve got my plot of land.  The soil is rich and dark and fertile.  I’m growing carrots, snow peas, and beets.  Each one requires attention at different times, each one has slightly different seasons.  Learning which crop will sustain me will take time and careful tending.  Season after season I will improve my product through trial and error.  It will take many seasons of work, no matter how much I try to muscle through it faster.  Turns out, vegetable gardens don’t respond to my strong arm attempts.

I have no idea what this next chapter looks like in real life.  I do, however, know that I will practice acceptance daily — of all the competing parts of me and all of the good and bad parts of this journey.  I’ve learned that by rejecting an important but complicated aspect of my life, I was rejecting part of me.  All this did was invite struggle.  If a part of my identity falls away, it must do so naturally, rather than me trying to push it out of the picture because it’s not always comfortable.

In the past few weeks during which these changes have been set in motion, this quote rings true.

If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.

-J. Krishanmurti

Here’s To Transformation.

 

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If you would like to post here about your work life (or lack thereof), contact me at Christie.o.tate@gmail.com

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25 thoughts on “On Baked Goods, Gardening, And Cultivating Career

  1. I don’t bake or garden, but I do work and mom full time, and hope my blog will someday be something bigger than it is now. There’s room for all of those slices, I promise. Good for you for going back to law – you won’t regret at least trying. Best of luck.

    • I don’t bake or garden either come to think of it! In fact if I did I would probably die of exhaustion and my family of improper nutrition. Thank you for the encouragement!!

  2. I don’t bake or garden either come to think of it! In fact if I did I would probably die of exhaustion and my family of improper nutrition. Thank you for the encouragement!!

  3. “I’ve learned that by rejecting an important but complicated aspect of my life, I was rejecting part of me. All this did was invite struggle. If a part of my identity falls away, it must do so naturally, rather than me trying to push it out of the picture because it’s not always comfortable” Amen sister. I have been going through huge transformations in both work and personal life this year and there is a mighty difference between pushing parts of me away versus letting them fall away. If they haven’t fallen, then they are still part of that garden that needs tending to. I wish you the very best of luck as you endeavor back to law – and bravo for accepting that part of you back.

    • I am so glad we are talking about this. I think the law life is falling away from me and it’s currently so painful I can’t even talk about it. I imagine there is an easier way– one where I proact and make decisions from a place of peace instead of fear and shame. I’m working on it. Both of you are helping me.

      On Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 10:59 AM, Outlaw Mama

  4. I’m a lawyer too, in a big New York firm with precious few female role models. Oh, there are plenty of women partners, but not enough who are doing what I want to do. Because what I want to do is have a successful career and have a successful family. I want to be a good lawyer and a good mother. I want to be there for my clients and be there for my family, whatever form it may take in the months and years to come. And I want to write. And keeping all of these pieces of me satisfied will require sacrifice, of that I am sure. But I think that all any of us can do is walk our own path and write our own stories. And it won’t always be exactly right and comfortable, but I think all of us will be better for having tried. Wishing you lots of luck as you head back to the law.

    • Ding, ding, ding! I remember looking at all the female partners at the firm (a decent handful or two) and thinking, I can do this. But when I realized what they were giving up in order to achieve it, I made the choice to opt out. It wasn’t what I wanted. Even now as I go back I’m not sure there is a place for someone who wants to be both an active lawyer and an active mother — but we’ll see!

  5. This is a great insight to “having it all” by our own definition. I won’t be shattering the glass ceiling anytime soon. At the top, my industry is awfully dominated by men, too. I don’t need to be at the top. I need to be challenged, use my brain and have time for the rest of my life. Best wishes in your transition.

  6. Carinn, I have missed your words. And I love this quote: “If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation. -J. Krishanmurti.” Good luck back at work. I can’t wait to read your book…because it WILL be out there for us all to read one day 🙂

  7. I love all of your writing – no exception here. What a way to embrace and celebrate your process! Congratulations on your new job, your writing success, your acceptance and all the actions you’re taking to navigate your bright, bright future. Mazel tov! 😉

  8. Congrats on everything!! You really inspire me. I’ve become really disillusioned lately with that whole notion of having it all and how I think it’s very impossible. But your take on it is much healthier and far more thought out and well written than the whiney rants in my head. Best of luck in your next endeavors!!

    • Oh, excuse me — I have written plenty of whiney rants — and published them! It’s frustrating and disheartening, but it’s worth sharing the rare moments of clarity.

  9. Good luck with the re-entry! I worked full time until we moved across the county (kids were 13 and 6). It was the right thing for me to work when they were younger (and not to now).

  10. Congratulations on having the courage to reverse your earlier decision. Admitting you may not have made the best decision at the time is really hard to do. Good luck!

  11. Pingback: On Baked Goods, Gardening, And Cultivating Career | Welcome to the Motherhood

  12. Pingback: This Is What Leaning In Looks Like | Outlaw Mama

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