Danielle Van Ess. I love the idea of creating the job that works for you. Here's how Astrid is having it all.
Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique.
I live in Charlotte, NC with my husband and two kids. I’m a transplant from Boston, Massachusetts. We have a 9 year-old son and our daughter is 5 years old. I have worked in the legal field for over 10 years. I started out working as a receptionist and worked my up to working as a legal assistant. When my daughter was born in 2008, I dreaded the thought of having to go back into the corporate world after my 6 months at home with her were up. With all of the experience that I had, my husband suggested that I become a virtual assistant. He couldn’t see why I couldn’t do what I was doing for years in someone’s office, from the comfort of my home. See, that’s why I married my wonderful husband! He has the greatest ideas! We have been married for almost 6 years. My husband is a song writer and has written a children’s album called Kids Pop 2.0. He has a passion for music and is currently pursuing his dream in the music industry.
I’m currently working from home as a Virtual Assistant and in 2011 I became a licensed Zumba instructor. I teach a couple classes on the weekends and at night. I love dancing and exercising so it’s the perfect activity for me. There’s a correlation between my two jobs. I feel a real sense of gratification knowing that I’m helping to make my client’s work life smoother by ensuring that they are on task with their work and helping my students with their weight loss and health goals.
What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos?
My tips for handling chaos are:
Prayer – when things are getting really crazy, I need to have someone that I can call on to get me through the crazy and bring me back to that peaceful place, which in turn helps me to put things back into perspective.
Team work – kids have messy tendencies and it gets really laborious having to constantly pick up after them. I’m not Superwoman (although sometimes I wish I were) and I can’t do it alone. My children both have their assigned chores. My husband is always there to help with whatever it is I need at the moment. When I’m having a really hectic day, he has no problem taking over and helping Jaden with his homework and helping Amayyah with her home school lessons. My husband does the laundry, makes sure that the kids are fed and that the house is in order. We have to work as a team. Point-blank-period!
Organization – there are times when I have to do things in half-hour or hourly increments. It helps me to focus on that one thing, ensure I get it done, and move on the next.
Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it.
I can’t recall the exact day, but it happened this year. I was trying to complete something that I was working on so that by the time my son got home from school, he could have my undivided attention without having to talk to me while I was still at my computer. Well, that didn’t work out so well on this particular day. When he came home, I wasn’t finished with what I had been working on. It really doesn’t matter if my husband is home or not. Jaden just wants to be able to come home after his long day of school and chat with me (as he should). I had more to do than I realized and I told him that I’d be finished before long. He kept coming into in my office after I asked him numerous times to just give me a couple more minutes because I needed to finish up work. I yelled at him! I mean adult temper tantrum yelling! “Jaden didn’t you hear what I said?!” “Please leave me alone!” I felt rotten. After I slapped myself back into reality, I went into his room and apologized to him and told him the truth. The truth was that it was just one of those days for mommy and that sometimes I get frustrated and overwhelmed with work and that it’s never, ever his fault and that I didn’t mean to take it out on him. He accepted my apology.
Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you?
I have many great balance role models. My parents, my husband, my family & friends have all shared different practices that work for them. I take notes and apply some of things to different areas in my life. However, I’ve learned that I have to figure out what works best for me and my situation. I learn from what didn’t work.
The one thing that I must avoid – NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP! Everyone who knows me knows that unless I’m taking care of a newborn or a baby, I need to get at least 7 hours of sleep nightly. I love to sleep. I love giving my body a break from “me.” It is so beneficial.
Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then?
I think my life has gone according to plan. I never really had this big vision of what my life would look like today. My thinking was pretty simple. I knew that I wanted to be married to a wonderful guy, have children (at that time it was 6 because I loved the Brady Bunch and thought it’d be so “cool” to have 3 boys and 3 girls, and just enjoy life. It’s the simple things in life that bring me the most joy. To me, “having it all” is knowing that my family is healthy, we are spiritually grounded and that we are surrounded by love.
Relate to what Astrid is saying? Leave her some love in the comments. Read other posts from The Having It All Project here. Want to participate? Send me an email at email@example.com!