Heads up, this content is 14 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

I just made a very hard decision. The fact that I sat on it for four days tells me it was hard. The fact that I made the decision at all tells me I’m getting smarter. Here’s what it was:

A very talented graphic designer asked me if I would trade services with her (she’ll redesign my website if I’ll make hers functional). I spent a week saying “ooh! neat! yay! probably… maybe…” And then, finally, I got honest with both of us and said “no.”

And I’m still wincing, still recoiling in self-disgust that I just turned down the opportunity to have my website redesigned by one of the most talented designers I know for free.

But it wouldn’t be free. It would cost several weeks of hard work on top of an already full tech industry workload and a professional writing course. It would cost sleep, it would cost the last remnants of my social life, it would cost a few notches of my health, and because of all these things, it would also probably cost the quality of the project, and therefore, my integrity as a professional, and maybe even my relationship with this designer. I’m not trying to be dramatic here — this is just the truth of a full plate.

And it’s kind of baffling, how much delusion can set in what such a beautiful carrot as a website makeover is dangled in front of my face. All of a sudden, I become Super Sarah! And Super Sarah doesn’t need sleep or a social life or food or balance, because Super Sarah can do anything if it’s worth it to her. Because a plate is never really full — more can always be heaped on if she’s really hungry, or if it’s really tasty. And what does it matter how awful she’ll feel before it’s done? The point is it tastes good! Ha!

That was my M.O. for a long time, and I grew considerably from it. My reckless acceptance of responsibility took me places I never dreamed, far faster than I ever should have traveled. And it got me into trouble. Too often, I had to choose between honoring my responsibilities and taking care of myself. And too often, I chose to honor my responsibilities. And then I learned the lesson: When you stop taking care of yourself, you stop being able to honor your responsibilities.

These days, doing a good job is more important to me than doing a lot of jobs. For months, I’ve been turning down new paying clients and referring them elsewhere, so what made me think I could take on a trade? A full plate is a full plate is a full plate, and I have responsibilities to honor. I chose those responsibilities carefully.

That makes them worth it.

Heads up, this content is 14 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

One quiet Sunday afternoon just a few weeks ago, in a bizarre display of things-that-are-not-surprising-in-San-Francisco, groups of people on trains all over the city spontaneously burst into Christmas carols. It was August.

It was supposed to be about happy jolly fun. Then it turned into a political act about free speech. And then it turned back into happy jolly fun.

The story is covered at the SF Shenanigans blog.

And I’m only sharing this because it’s interesting. I had nothing to do with it. I swear. That isn’t me in those pictures. Really. I’m a good upstanding citizen who doesn’t create anachronistic merrymaking chaos.

Seriously.

Stop looking at me like that.

You believe me, don’t you?

Heads up, this content is 14 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

If you sent me an email in the last five days, you received this autoresponse:

Subject: Autoresponse: I'm off the grid.
Hi! Thanks for your email! I'm off camping this weekend, and will be back on Tuesday night.

While I'm gone, I will not have access to phone, email, text messages, voicemail, twitter, wordpress, livejournal, linked in, facebook, myspace, cpanel, firefox, photoshop, dreamweaver, or anything else that I generally consider to be a critical lifeline. This means you can't reach me. No, really. You really can't reach me.

Frankly, I'm a little concerned that I might die without my microchips.

But we'll see what happens.

Talk to you when I return.

~Sarah

The suggestion came from my coworker while I was running around the office last Thursday, frantically trying to make sure he had all the details he needed to survive while I was gone. When I offered to twitter my entire weekend so he could know at any moment if I was swimming or not, he gently put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Sarah, how about you leave your cell phone at home?”

I stared at him slack-jawed and tried three times to form a complete word, but couldn’t.

He backpedaled. “I mean, do what you want to do. You can bring it if you want and that’s fine — it might be helpful. I was just thinking maybe…”

I cut him off. “No, you’re right. I should probably leave it at home. It’s just… I can’t… even imagine what that would be like.”

“All the more reason to do it,” he said.

So I did it.

And from all the recognition and back-pats I demanded from my fellow campers, you woulda thought I’d just donated a kidney to a dying seven-year-old. This was major sacrifice. This was a big deal.

As soon as I settled in, something wonderful happened. I relaxed and paid attention to where I was. The campfire smell. The gravel between my toes. The dog scavenging for food scraps by my knee. The sun starting to burn my shoulders. The cool water rippling around my skin as I did somersaults in Lake Berryessa.

For five days, I didn’t know what time it was. And with the exception of the people in my campground, I didn’t know what anyone in the world was up to, when anyone was trying to reach me, or what anyone was concerned about. And I didn’t particularly care.

It was the same peace and beauty for five full days, and miraculously, I never once felt bored.

I hate to say it, but maybe there’s more to life than the Internet.

Maybe?

Okay, just kidding. So what’d I miss?