Many Irons In the Fire

Everyday Adventures

and why, for me, that’s a good thing.

I heard it again, today: “since you’re not busy or anything” said with a whole heaping dose of good-natured sarcasm. (It’s actually being facetious–non-malicious–but I don’t know how to say that in the right tense for that sentence!) I get that a lot because folks who know me, know that I always have a lot of projects going at once. My usually answer to ‘how’ve you been’ is ‘busy, but in a good way.’

Let’s just take a look at my list of current projects:

That’s  just the ones that get some attention each week. Not mentioned (aka back-burnered) are both webcomics currently on hiatus, a couple of knitting projects (one needs finishing, one is an idea waiting on a swatch and a design) and the party (maybe more than one, I’ll know more later) I’ll be throwing later this year. I was fiddling around with some beads and came up with a beading pattern project that I want to finish and write up. There are canvases waiting to be painted for the living room and 3 couches to cover.

And I just accepted a commission for a painting.

Why? Because I like being busy!

It’s more than that, though. I am capable of focusing solely on one large project at a time, totally immersing myself to where it’s all I think about outside of the day-to-day requirements of human interaction.

But with such focus comes a price: burn out.

For years before culinary school I was obsessed with food. If I wasn’t decorating cakes (or teaching others how) I was baking for the office (oh, if I only blogged back then, right?). If I wasn’t baking, I was watching that new channel, Food Network, reading a copy of Cooking Light or planning the week’s menus. I got into school and there wasn’t time for anything else–I worked 8am to 4:30 pm, changed clothes, grabbed something resembling dinner on the way and was at class from 5:30 to 10:30 or 11 o’clock at night 4 nights a week.

Total immersion.

Then it stopped. The internship led to a job but that job couldn’t keep the bills paid. When I was looking for a second job to keep my car from being repossessed, the opportunity to return to my old desk job was presented and I took it.

And I stopped cooking. I stopped reading cookbooks, watching food shows, dreaming of my own bakery or catering company.

It was nearly 10 years before my passion for food returned.

10 Years is a Long Time to Go Without Your Passion

Since then I’ve become a bit of a dilettante (the lover of the arts and a nod to the root–delight–not so much the superficial interest bit).

It’s a defense mechanism against tunnel vision. Against obsession. Against burn out.

Having multiple projects going simultaneously means I’m always happy to get a chance to work on any one thing. It’s always fresh. And if I hit a road block? Just choose a different project and wait for the other to clear out.

Going back to culinary school for a minute, it was a private college that taught in modules. 16 days of focus on a single subject. 1 subject a month. For a lot of people this style of learning works well because there’s little to no distractions. No other classes are competing for the student’s attention, no other homework getting in the way.

But there are no breaks, either.

In contrast, middle and high school and the majority of public universities prefer schedules with multiple disciplines being taught over the course of a day or week. They switched to block scheduling at my old high school when my brother’s were there and, while it played hell with extracurriculars, it was the middle ground between 7-periods a day and 1 module a month.

I liked high school.

I liked the multiple classes because it kept everything in motion. It might feel overwhelming from time to time (tonight, a little, but my schedule’s been off) but, all in all, it serves me well.

So I don’t mind when folks rib me about all my many projects. Sometimes they admire me, and I–always working on accepting compliments gracefully–thank them. I think it’s given me a skill set not everyone has and I revel in that, too.


This has nothing to do with the 64 Arts (other than it’s the perfect project for someone like me, someone who likes to change things up on a regular basis), just something that was on my mind and I wanted to share. We’ll get back to flowers and what to do with them, soon.

Until then: where do you fit? Do you prefer a single focus or a broad spectrum?

There is no wrong answer, as long as it’s right for you.