How to Stop Whining and Enjoy the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks Out of Your Unexpected Downtime

(Image: Opening of new Forsyth County Central Library, Winston-Salem, NC. One of the many experiences I got to enjoy during my recent downtime.)

This week I basked in the giggly glow of spending three glorious days slap in the middle of an ordinary work week with my best friend of 30+ years.

Yep, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week was ours to do with just as we pleased.

Mind you, this mid-week downtime was not planned, not part of a staycation, and not, if I’m honest, exactly what I wanted, at least not initially.

In fact, it was creating all kinds of stress for me.

See, I did the thing you’re never, not-in-a-million-years-E-V-E-R, supposed to do as a copywriter/marketer/web strategist for hire – I didn’t market myself near enough during all those months I was up-to-my-eyeballs busy with client work.

In fact, for the last few years I’ve been blessed to have enough client inquiries from folks who found me through my website, that my project schedule has been full to the gills for a very long time.

During that time, I haven’t had to actively market or promote myself, other than sending an email to my subscribers 2-3 times a year to announce a special or a new service.

(Ah, the magical appeal of nailing your marketing message, and having a website, blog, and newsletter that conveys it. These things have served me so, so well.)

But then it happened – a client who provided 25% of my monthly income mysteriously went AWOL with no explanation (never, ever, and I mean EVER, work with a client without the benefit of a contract, no matter how honest, above-board, and ethical they seem. Because when they decide, inexplicably, that you are entirely disposable, you will be left scratching your head while nervously regarding the moths flying around in your bank account).

Then my longest”-term client, who I’ve been working with for seven years, had very little work for me in August. And to compound the problem, I was coming to the end of two big one-off copywriting projects right around the same time.

Wherefore, oh wherefore, my usual monthly income?

‘Twas my fault though, so I cannot complain. Can I?

The Silver Lining

Alas, this late August downtime, as stressful and unwanted as it initially was, allowed me to spend three glorious days and nights with my best gal pal who lives 40 minutes away in the next town over, going out to dinner, enjoying flutes of bubbly, savoring a couple of glasses of a most delicious Pinot Blanc from the Willamette Valley, and imbibing a refreshing beer or two (not all on the same night, ha ha).

Also, eating cheeseburgers two nights in a row, watching many episodes of Arrested Development while laughing our fool heads off, scarfing down Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream, and eating these luscious things called “cake bars,” from a beloved local bakery.

There were many long conversations about subjects both serious and silly, lunches out in the middle of the day (this was a revelation to me, since I usually wolf down avocado toast while working on client projects during lunch), a visit to the gorgeous, newly renovated public library in town, and dinner and a movie (“The Big Sick” – highly recommended) with popcorn, M & M’s, and real Coke, not the diet kind, on the final night of my visit.

It’s not that I never see my BFF, it’s just that normally when I’m there for a multi-day visit, I sit at her dining room table chained to my computer for 8+ hours or more. And while we spend a couple of hours together in the evening doing fun stuff, I’m always thinking ahead to the next day’s workload, deliverables, and deadlines.

But this visit wasn’t like that. It was like being on vacation. It was liberating and refreshing and full of the kind of quality time I don’t usually get to have with my dearest friend in the middle of the week. And once I let myself lean into it, instead of worrying myself silly laser-focusing on my slow-business-month woes, I relaxed and enjoyed the best three days I’ve had in a long, long time.

It was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.

Now, I don’t have some grand transformation to share (of the “I’ll-never-let-my-business-get-in-the way-of-living-my-life again” variety, because I know that ain’t the case), or an inspirational meme-worthy lesson to impart, but I do know this:

This is what life is for. Experiences. Fun. Downtime. Enjoying your life when you’re busy, and when you’re not. Embracing the middle-of-the-week blessings that come your way, despite said moths flying around in your bank account.

And not whining like a baby about the slower times in business. (Ahem . . . especially when you could have done something to prevent it. Hello, consistent marketing.)

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