My husband and I started the Alamo Drafthouse in 1997. In addition to management of the staff, a responsibility I shared with my husband, I handled the accounting, human resources - basically everything that had to do with lawyers, accountants, or the government. Eventually, we hired managers, and I continued with the administrative duties for 3 Austin theaters until 2010, when we began to really expand. At that point we hired a CFO and an HR manager, and built up large staffs in those areas, and I essentially retired. The timing was perfect as I became pregnant with twins, which pretty much incapacitated me throughout 2011 - I focused on watching submissions to the Fantastic Fest film festival during my enforced bed-rest - and have since been working as a full time mom.
"Having it all" is a strange term. I don't think you can, or would want to "have it all"? All what? I like to focus on contentment. I don't think you can be happy if you're not content with what you have. I think I might have a natural ability to be content easily.
I was happy when my husband and I lived in a tiny apartment and worked 100 hours a week; I was happy when we lived for 3 years in a torn apart house that we were renovating ourselves while still working 80 hours a week - back then, my husband and I were together 24 hours a day.
Nowadays we live in a lovely house with two wonderful kids, and lots of family nearby. I am incredibly blessed. Tim continues to work 80 hours a week, and we don't get much time together - a couple hours in the evening, plus date night once a week. It couldn't be more different. But I simultaneously wonder how I ever could have been happy without my kids, and yet think wistfully of the days when i could actually do things by myself and got to spend unlimited time with my husband. So it isn't possible to have everything. But it is possible to be content with whatever the circumstances of the moment gift to you.
That is a difficult one. I often hear people say that you should find something that they love to do and pursue their passion and so forth, but I actually consider that to be highly unrealistic. A few lucky people can attain that, sure. But it isn't attainable for the majority of people, and having that expectation would be a major barrier to contentment. Even within the "dream job" scenario the actual nitty gritty of the work can be tedious and repetitive or actually unpleasant. You would think that being owner of a popular business within the film industry would be glamorous, right? But starting up, I cleaned toilets, dealt with angry customers, had to fire employees (the worst task of all!) and so on. And up to 2010 I was crunching numbers, sitting in excruciating meetings with CPA's, waiting for hours on hold with the IRS and still having to fire people. I don't think the dreamiest dream job is free of tasks that are mundane. What matters is that you enjoy the environment you work in and the people you work with; and that either the salary or the job satisfaction are equal to whatever demands and sacrifices the job imposes.
I am fortunate enough that I'm not required to balance the two, and can devote myself full time to motherhood. However, my girls entered kindergarten this fall. My challenge is figuring out what I want to do with my new free time.
I admire Laura Dunn. She has 6 boys and is a talented documentary filmmaker. She made "The Unforseen," a beautiful portrait of Barton Springs and the challenges facing conservation of the spring; and is currently self-distributing "Look and See; A Portrait of Wendell Berry," a gorgeous examination into the life and work of the great American poet and philosopher. When she was filming for "Look and See," which was shot in Kentucky and features scenes from all four seasons, she packed up her boys and took them with her on location each new season. She carried and birthed her two youngest over the course of the long production. That amazes me.