Have you stopped to smell the roses lately? Or should I say, the sweet fragrance of native wattle? Work/life balance is a major theme of my latest novel Yes, Chef! My heroine, Becca Stone, becomes so consumed with her demanding role as PA to London's most notorious chef that she neglects what's most important to her; friendship, family, love and sometimes even her sanity.
I must confess to being guilty of this myself in the past. I wanted to be an actor once. I dreamt of a life on the London stage. But I was always more dedicated and committed to my 'day job' than I was to honing my craft or pursuing my passion. Why is that? Why do we continue in jobs that dominate our lives instead of finding a way to make a living out of our bliss? Are we so used to the creature comforts a stable income provides? Are we frightened of failure?
Looking back, I think I was certainly guilty of this and more. Most of all I see now that I cared more about what other people thought of me than I did about my own happiness. This seems like a ludicrous statement, but I can't help wondering what I might have achieved if I'd cared less about having a job other people respected and instead took on a less demanding role, freeing up some time and head-space for my creative pursuits.
Granted we all have to pay the bills but nothing truly great ever came easy. If it was easy, my father likes to say, everyone would be doing it. While I let my potential acting career slip through my fingers, I wasn't so blasé when I re-discovered my love of storytelling. I went back to waitressing in my late twenties and early thirties, a time when other women my age were starting families or hitting their career strides. I worked nights and then part time. I finished my first manuscript.
Someone once said to me, the key to happiness is deciding on the things you want most in life and then doing everything in your power to achieve them. Wise words. They've worked for me so far, albeit after a shift in attitude.
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If you're interested in discussing these issues further I'm appearing at a number of bookstores and libraries in Newcastle, Sydney and regional Victoria this month. Please see the events page for more details. I'd love to see you there.