She Works Hard For the Money: A Dedication to Hard Working Women Everywhere

With Mother's Day around the corner, I dedicate today's writing piece to all the women out in the world. Whether you are a stay at home mom, a blogger, an administrative assistant, a store clerk, a massage therapist, an aesthetician, a teacher (the list could go on and on.....), you are appreciated. You work hard and I know that. Thank you for your dedication to your families and friends. I write this piece today because I hope that you are also dedicating some time to YOU because YOU are very important. Women work very hard and often neglect themselves. Sometimes they work so hard, they burn out.

I kind of burned-out recently, but I am fixing that. Here's my story:

I have always worked hard. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I think it's because I quit my job and have felt a tinge of guilt from it. I was talking to someone recently about quitting and they said "It's fortunate you can do that. Not many people can do that." I told them I was, in fact, very fortunate. I know that. My husband is the sole supporter of our home right now, but one thing people may not know is that I made more than my husband for many years. I was still making more than he when I quit this January. Between my salary and my side jobs, I made over $10k more.

Though he was always fine with that (I was too), he has admitted to liking being the "breadwinner" for once. Honestly, I'm fine with that too. I needed a break. Here's another fact: I've contemplated and realize I don't need to feel guilty. I worked hard for a very long time to be able to do what I'm doing right now. I worked until we paid off our bills, saved some money, and now I'm concentrating on me which is something I've not done since I was 8 or 9 years old. It's my new job, and I believe it's the most important job I've ever had.

My first "job" memory comes from being hired out by my parental figures to clean our neighbors home. I think I was around 8 or 9 years old. My only memory of how this job came about was from hearing my parental figures talking to the neighbors and hearing "Carolyn is good at cleaning." I was good at cleaning and I also liked having my own money, so I guess they put two and two together and made it a job. Sometimes I am sad that I worked at such a young age, but, I was able to keep my money and learned a valuable lesson. I learned how to work using my talents and that has carried on throughout my life. 

When I was ten years old, I took a first aid babysitting course with a friend. After I was certified, I created fliers and passed them out around our neighborhood and started getting babysitting jobs. There was good money to be made in babysitting. I became pretty busy doing this and kept doing it until I was fifteen.

The summer I turned fifteen, my father told me I should contact my friends parents who owned a deli at the local mall. I was pretty tired and wanted to take a break from working for a little while, but my father persisted. He put quite a bit of pressure on me (even got pretty angry with me) so I finally called them and set up an interview. You could work in Kentucky at age fifteen with parental permission in the 1990's (and probably still can), and I was definitely given  permission. I was hired and worked about 10-20 hours a week at that job until I was 18. It was hard balancing cheerleading, school, work and friends, but I did it. Despite all the troubles that also went on in my home life, I still kept up with everything and maintained A's and B's on my report card.

From ages 18-21, I worked 2-3 jobs while attending college. One time I was working at St. Joseph's Children's Home (Louisville, KY), Hallmark and Bath and Body Works. Besides having part-time jobs, I also still babysat, watched people's homes while they were out of town and did some pet sitting. I remember coming to a crashing point because I had piled on way too much. My grades were failing, my hair was weirdly falling out, and I was exhausted. I needed the money to pay for books and school, so I just dealt with it, despite how tired I was. 

When I was around 21, I was finally able to focus on school. I met and moved in with my fiancee (later to be my husband). Having a second income definitely enabled me to do this. I quit all jobs except St. Joseph Children's Home. I did that for a while, then quit and just became a very part-time nanny (less than 20 hours a week and in my own home-that was great!). Money got tight, but I had more freedom and much more time. Because of this, my grades got better, and I graduated from my Master's program with a 4.0 when I was around 25.

I went onto teach solely for about a year or two, but it felt weird not having something else going on. I grew accustomed to having more than one job after all the years of having multiple jobs all at once. I started to get bored with teaching alone, so I started a cake business when I was about 26. A friend had taken cake decorating classes and I was always a good baker/cook. We combined our skills and started out making cakes for a few people we knew. Our cakes became quite a hit. We started a website, one thing led to another, and we started getting more and more clients.

Around the year 2005, my friend and I parted ways, but I still kept it up with the help of my husband. We created our own website (Carolyn's Blooming Creations) and kept doing the cakes together. We kept it up for couple of years, but couldn't see it being a lucrative career. I enjoyed doing them, but knew opening a bakery was the only way to make good money. My husband and I both agreed we didn't want to own a bakery, so we quit. But, my working mind got the best of me, and I started doing other things on the side again.

I taught full time for ten years, and then moved onto working at an insurance company. I, however, continued to do plenty on the side, even when the cakes were gone. I got involved doing makeup with my stylist from time to time, was hired to help with some weddings (I once made the cake, did the flowers, decorated the entire event venue and did the makeup all for one wedding...that was a big job!), illustrated a children's book, wrote articles for online websites and more.

One time someone asked me why I do all that I do. I said "because it's who I am." If you read this entire piece, you should understand why I do all I do. It's because IT IS who I am. I was "trained" at a very early age to work hard. And work hard, indeed, is what I've done. Yes, it's true, I am taking some "time off" right now and truly am thankful I am to be able to do so.  But, in reality, I'm not really taking time off. I am writing. I am creating art. I am finally using my skills and talents to do what I want to do. Honestly though, what I am doing right now doesn't feel like work. Maybe it's because it's exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. I don't know where it will lead me, but I think it's somewhere good.

To anyone out there that has had a lot of jobs over the years, or even all at once: I feel you. Just keep it up because it will lead you to something great. Just make sure you take a break sometimes. Maybe your break will be a day off, a quick vacation, or a week to months off. No matter how you decided to take a break, you must do it. You are worth it.

Lots of love and light to you!

 Art by Carolyn J. Braden

Art by Carolyn J. Braden