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This week is kinda crappy for DIY projects. I’ve got several in the works (involving molding, paint, and picture frames, among other things), but haven’t finished any of them yet. And I’m distracted. You see, next week will be the end of spring semester. I have two finals to go; one is in Operations Management, and the other is an ass-kicking class called Financial Analysis and Loan Structuring. Yeesh. Hard to believe that last year I was just getting used to the idea of piling on academic work on top of my job, blog, and remodeling projects, and now, I simply can’t wait for it all to end. While I wouldn’t say this semester has really been that much harder than the others (they all have their ups and downs), I have had the same thoughts creeping into my head every. single. day:

I’d rather be here:

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve been to the beach. And I guess that’s my limit for how long I can go without breathing ocean air. All I want to do is lay in a bathing suit on a beach chair with a stack of books on a towel next to me, and have someone bring me rainbow-colored drinks (little umbrella optional). I’ve been obsessively listening to island music in the hopes that it will help ease my thoughts since I can’t really afford to drop hundreds (or in most cases, thousands) of dollars on a plane trip to a sandy destination. I’m working on a game plan to see if I can afford a quick trip to South Carolina or something for a long weekend before summer semester begins (I basically have May off, and then school starts again for all 8 weekends during the summer, and then I have another month-long break in August before my last semester in the fall – during which I still have my job to go to). But even then, my budget is really, really tight since I decided to pay for summer tuition out of pocket and avoid piling on more student loan debt.

Point is, just as often as I like to show off on this blog about my accomplishments (and heck yeah, I’m proud of being able to tackle all of these things and cannot wait to don the “I have an effing GRADUATE DEGREE” smile), I think it’s just as important to be honest about how hard trying to do all of these things at once really is.

My job is hard. I don’t talk about my job a lot (specifically so that my employer doesn’t have the opportunity to read something on this site that might get me into trouble – I’ve heard horror stories), but I’m getting my MBA specifically so that I have more options available to me in the future than what I have now. I know I’m capable of doing more and it’s going to take work to get there, so I’m trying to give myself that opportunity.

School is hard. I am really good with numbers and confident about my academic abilities. I have kicked ass in every accounting or finance class I’ve ever taken but don’t really find the field to be my passion. However, I know how important understanding numbers are in making strategic decisions in other parts of a business, so I’m splitting my concentration in school between finance and marketing, which has grown to be a field I read constantly about in my spare time. Sometimes the hardest thing to figure out is what you want to really do after graduating, so I’m glad I at least have some ideas about that. But pursuing that is still making a large change from what I do professionally, so changing fields is yet another item that I have to figure out how to do.

DIY projects are hard.  I bought my house as a fixer-upper because I wasn’t going to be able to afford a new house or one that was already fully remodeled. I work on my house by myself not only because I like the challenge (and I do love the sense of accomplishment from knowing I did it myself), but also because I don’t have much else of a choice. I can’t really afford to hire people to do many of the things I want to tackle, which means I have to figure it out on my own. Both my stubbornness (the “I can totally do that!” mentality) and my wallet are in cahoots, but sometimes that can be challenging in and of itself. A DIYer takes more time to get the job done. A DIYer also has to live in the mess that she creates, which eliminates any sort of sanctuary the home may create for others who don’t have to deal with drywall dust or cans of paint or a pile of dirty dishes thanks to spending the evening working on the living room walls instead.

Finding balance is the hardest.  Learning to say no, learning when to go the extra mile and when not to are all pretty murky decisions. Do I sacrifice my evening to go to the Atlanta blogger meetup to network and see if I can find more opportunities to grow the site? Do I go to the student event and get involved with my school to see if I can gain some marketing experience? Do I meet up with my friends when I’m in a shitty mood and need to catch up on sleep (I could really use some time to blow off steam, but I don’t want to be the exhausted one spoiling someone else’s fun…)?

Some day, I promise, I really will write a post on my tips for how to “manage it all.”  But for now, I’m just going to think about the beach and listen to ukulele music. And if you have a tip on how to find a really inexpensive weekend beach trip (I live in Georgia, so it would have to be driving distance), I’m all ears.

UPDATE:  I did it! Thank you guys SO MUCH for all of your tips. I mentioned needing a break to my boss, and he was wonderful enough to help me find a place to stay for a few days for less than I expected it would cost, and only a few hours drive. So thankfully, I’m going to get my trip after all! Tiki hut and island music, here I come!

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  1. I just wrote on my blog yesterday about how I am having trouble finding balance right now and I dont even have school on top of my job!! So I feel ya. I need a vacation too! im not even within driving distance to an ocean (or heat…still warming up here in Canada). Heck, I dont even have a car so I cant even drive to a beach if it WAS warm.


  2. For me the hardest time ever was working a full time job, writing the book and running multiple blogs at the same time. You are in a similar trifecta, just with different things. Well, from the outside, I can’t believe how easy you make it look. I know it’s not, but when you look back you are going to be amazed at what you accomplished. I’m so excited for what’s in store for you!

  3. Doesn’t Georgia even have some beaches? I think one of my friends routinely goes to Tybee Island and says it’s beautiful there, but I’ve never been.

    1. Yep, Georgia has a few beaches of our own. But I’ve been to them too, and I’d prefer to go somewhere I haven’t been yet :)

  4. My boyfriend and I are REALLY needing to visit a beach. It has been just over a year for us and we are craving the sand between our toes! In the past year, I have sold my house, we have moved in together and he has quit his job to become a self-employed seed/fertilizer salesman and farmer. WE NEED A VACATION! We have been rat-holing money. I’m thinking we may get to find a beach somewhere after planting season is over.

  5. Oh, and I meant to say, I am so impressed with all that you tackle on your own. I lived alone for several years and between a job and home improvement, I never had a spare minute and I didn’t have school and a blog too! You are doing awesome!

  6. Frankly, I’m in awe of anyone who works full time and simultaneously goes to school! I just finished up my law degree, and while the actual amount of time spent in class/studying/writing essays certainly doesn’t add up to the amount of time I’d be spending at a “real” job, the general stress/tiredness/tunnel vision seems to leave me with not much left to give anything else. I really can’t imagine having had to work at the same time! So, mega props to you for pulling it off. Although bizarrely, most of the law-school stress stems from finding an article (mandatory job to be a “real lawyer” in Canada), not from the actual schoolwork.

    However, reading your blog (and Kit’s) really gives me hope/inspiration that I’ll somehow be able to realize my home-owning/DIYing dreams while simultaneously working in the extremely demanding and time-consuming career that I have got myself into. I’m not really sure that one ever finds perfect balance, but you know those motivational running/fitness posters that say “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch”? That’s kind of how I view it – you’re crazy stressed and sometimes struggling, but even if you haven’t found balance yet, you’re certainly working on it….and you have to look back at everything you’ve achieved in the meantime and realize that you’re kicking the hell out of all the metaphorical asses of everyone still sitting on the metaphorical couch!

  7. Totally feel you on this one, and I JUST have a full-time job whilst attempting to wade in to the DIY blogosphere. It’s totally overwhelming to think of how to get a proper blog (that may generate some income one day) up and running.

    Also, I LIVE at the beach, and have a hard time actually getting out to it! I found that as of right now, painting my nails a tropical-ish color (Essie’s Turquoise and Caicos) is what gets me through the day (since I obvs can’t down Margaritas whilst at my desk).

  8. I’m kinda in awe of you. I constantly consider going back to school and even FINISHING my degree, but with a husband, 3 little boys, a full-time job a dog & 2 blogs (that I should probably post more on!), I just get tired thinking about the extra work. You are ah-may-ZING. Seriously.

    I live in California (in the crotch, right in the damn middle if you must know), so pretty much any climate I want is within a 4-hour drive. An hour to gorgeous mountains with hiking, climbing & camping. 2 hours to the beach, where we are fortunate enough to have friends with a place (it’s a mobile home from 1982, but hey, it’s FREE whenever we want it. And only 10 minutes from the water). It’s time for us to get out again too; we’ve been able to plan for Memorial Weekend, since the older two have an extra day off school then.

    I know how hard it all is even with the MAN around to help out (well, sort of) – I can’t imagine doing it all myself!

    If worse comes to worst, build yourself a sandbox with a sunken kiddie pool, pull up a chair and have a backyard beach stay-cation. Actually, that sounds pretty good!

  9. Have you ever looked into Spirit Airlines? yes, they charge you for all additional luggage and carry-ons, but if you took a whole bunch of swim suits and a sun dress or two (which take up the room of a large wallet sometimes:), you could get to someplace warm and sunny for about $120 round trip (possibly less than gas!). Whatever you end up doing, Good luck getting through it all- The balancing act is hard, and you are doing a great job at keeping all the balls in the air:)

  10. You are awesome. Enjoy the moments without worrying to much about how much you are accomplishing or how fast. I have had diy projects last years, that’s just the way this DIY business goes; and no matter how slow that seems, life goes by much faster :)

  11. Oh how I can relate. I sometimes feel so overwhelmed trying to be a mom, housewife, carry a part-time job, DIY..and then blog about it..oh yah..and ENJOY LIFE at the same time! I think the most important thing to tell yourself is we only get to do this thing called life once and that DIY project you had your mind set on can wait (as will your devoted followers) … if your soul is aching for some sun on your face and sand between your toes, you should treat yourself a little. We all deserve a little break now and then, I think you feel more rejuvenated. Take some time to breath in that ocean air and enjoy it all…as it all goes by way too fast.

  12. Have you ever been to Tybee Island? It’s Hilton Heads casual younger cousing and one of my favorite beaches in the US. Fresh shrimp right off the boats, great beaches, cheap motels / cabins. Heaven.

  13. Good luck with the exams. I’d really like to be on the beach myself as well! For now got to finish up some client windows but hoping to take a nice little vacation in a few week. Hope all goes well with your classes!