The dangers when "no margin" means "I’m capable"

2/14/20243 min read

In 2024 I wanted to shift away from "work until dinner, take a break to make and eat dinner, and get back to work."

I love my work. From subbing, to nannying, to the creation and marketing that makes this art business work.

And still… I began to notice a lack of margin. And I recognized that somehow I associate a lack of margin with being capable. And that’s dangerous for me.

Creativity flourishes in margin and languishes in its absence.

So it was time for a shift. Have you ever spread yourself so thin you needed to make a shift, too?

Before I finish these thoughts, I want to invite you to my next watercolor workshop. It’s February 24th, ten days from today and next Saturday. We’ll be making watercolor cards with many watercolor techniques, so you can send special, unique mail to those who are important to you. The theme this month is ‘sea creatures’, and if you check my website you can see the themes for March and April, too.

There are only 8 spots, so if you’re local and interested, reserve your spot before it fills up!

Ok, back to margin, creativity, and the all-important shift…

I started the year with setting aside time for things like reading. Activities for fun. I’ve read 8 book so far this year!

I also made a list of things, outside work, I wanted to accomplish. I asked myself what skills I wanted to grow. The first one I checked off the list this year wsa butchering and using all the parts of a chicken.

My first motivation was that it is supposedly healthier, because I can make broths from the bone and cook the chicken on the bone. Then, I realized it could be a useful skill. After buying the raw chicken, I realized it would also be kinder to our budget. A whole chicken is close to half the price of a slab of chicken breasts!

Butchering (by which I don’t mean killing and plucking, just cutting apart) is becoming easier with practice, though it still takes more time than simply trimming the fat off the chicken breasts.

Now I can add brines, broths, and bone-in chicken to my repertoire, and I feel very domestic. I feel resourceful. I feel capable.

And I LOVE feeling capable.

Except that it was terrible timing to add a time-consuming project to my weeks. Running this business, volunteering at a local gallery, homemaking, health, relationships… it’s more than enough for one week, much more so for one day. And then add in substitute teaching?!

I’ve been dropping the ball a lot, lately.

Which leads to feelings of “incapable.”

So, yeah. Not great timing to add “learn to butcher and use a whole chicken” to the list.

I do like being busy. I like projects and appointments. The problem arises when I over (and double) book myself.

I haven’t solved this yet. I don’t have solutions and lists and plans for how to add that margin back into my life.

Some of it will come when I start my new job, nannying two of my nieces. That will naturally leave more margin.

I also know I’m responsible for creating the margin I need, now. I know I’m responsible for keeping margin, even when all the shiny new ideas are jumping out at me.

I’ll need to say “no” more often.

I’ll need to prioritize margin.

I’ll need to ask for help so I don’t feel like I’m carrying everything on my own shoulders.

That last one is the idea that led to a sketch this week, that may or may not become a sketchbook painting, or a framed painting. It's the one at the top of this post. So far, I'm calling it, "Turn and Look." Let me know if the idea of the piece resonates with you.

And let me know if you’re going to take steps to add margin back into your life, too. And if that’s something you’ve already done, I’d love to hear your tips!