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Having it all and other myths

farm scene
There’s nothing like a bunch of thank you notes from darling college girls to make you consider: You can have it all, but not all at the same time.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to Skype into an ag communications class at Cal Poly. We talked about how we get a publication out the door and how I got my job, and then I offered up some random advice to college kids.

Because their instructor is a class act, every one of Scott Vernon’s students mailed me a handwritten thank you note. As I read, over and over, I caught a theme in the words from the young women: They were grateful to hear how I balanced work and family, loved hearing how I could do both, said I gave them hope that they could, too.

While my first thought was, “Oh, but I don’t really,” over and over, the words of my mother-in-law came to my mind: "You can have it all, but not all at the same time."

Because there was a day when I wondered if I’d screwed up — if I’d set my career back in some way when my oldest was born and I went to part-time work.

During those 11 years, I passed up opportunities to move up. I said, “Thank you, but no,” and wondered if I’d screwed up. If I’d set my career back. But with three babies in five years, I didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on it. And I didn't want to leave my babie, so I made peace with it. I worked part time and wrote and raised babies and stayed in my lane. For 11 years.

Here's what I found: When everyone grew and finally left for school and my days began to open up, God opened up the exact right doors. Doors I thought were permanently closed opened in fantastic ways that I never would have imagined nor could have orchestrated.

And sure enough, as my youngest grew, a call came to serve on a board of directors. Everyone in school brought a full-time national editor role, made just for me. A couple of years later, American Agricultural Editors' Association president. A year later, a management position. Now, editor.

And so it is. Patience, grasshopper. You can have it all, but not all at the same time.

There’s a time and a season for everything in our lives. It’s OK to step away when you need to. I had to dial back the professional to raise my babies. It was the right answer for me. It wasn’t easy at the time, as I watched friends move upward and onward and do it well and effortlessly.  

Maybe you’re in that season? Wondering what’s next? Let me reassure you of this: You don’t have to do it all at the same time. And God honors right choices. There will be a time when doors will fling wide, and no one will be more surprised than you.

I have a dear friend in those trenches this very day, and I say to you the very thing I said to her: This is just your second act. There are many more to come. And no one will be more tickled for you than me.

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