Free Time – Life Balance

One of the biggest changes for me, now that I am no longer working out of the home is to allow for time to make myself work-ready and to commute to the office. For me the loss is a couple of hours each day.  I am not special in this loss of personal time.   It is the personal price that millions of people pay as part of being gainfully employed.  It is time the working person can never get back.

I use my commuting time to plan my day or decompress and shut down at the end of a day.   When I push the button on the garage door, that is the line of demarcation of work time and personal time.   I don’t take home paperwork, my computer or say to anyone at work to call me at home.     I have traveled that road before of letting work take over my life and have no desire to do it again.    When I am on the clock I am 110% in, but when I am off-the-clock  I am guard my private time preciously.   It isn’t easy and I like so many others have struggled with this situation.

When I accepted this job, RangerSir and I talked about this.   We discussed what the realistic expectations were.   We discussed what was most likely to suffer and what each of us might do to limit the impact of my new job on personal time.

I have done several things to ensure that I don’t let work creep occur.    I am trying to cultivate new habits to ensure I don’t just go to work and come home and veg, because I  found I was falling in that pattern.    In January  I enrolled in a creative class with weekly assignments because I love to learn and I thrive on creativity.   With regular assignments I am forced to carve out time for myself.   It seems that once I have found the rhythm of making self-time, it seems I have found  time for other things as well.   I  have queued up several books at the public library, because I am back to reading daily.   I had wanted to make a baby quilt when my newest Great Nephew was born, but I had never started the project.  I felt I had no time.    Now the top is pieced and I am busy machine quilting it so I can go to baby Harrison.

imag3302.jpg

I had never imagined I would find the time to make a baby quilt, though I really wanted this special baby boy to have one.   Now suddenly it is well on its way. 

Are you caught in the never ending rat race of letting your work encroach on your personal time?    Are you not being yourself, but instead using the exhaustion of work  preventing you from finding enjoyment in life?   If so, I hope you take a little time and think about how you can find some time for you.  You are worth it.   Maybe you can’t be as lucky as I am, but even if all you get is a few minutes to yourself, it will be worth it.   Once you claim those first few minutes hopefully you can claim a few more and a few more.

It is something we all need not just with work and personal time, but holistically more life balance.

Advertisements

Moving Forward

CourtneysDigiscrappin_YourLife_WA12

As I start this next chapter of my life, I am finding that it is really all up to me what my life looks like.

I have worked ever since I was old enough to babysit and have not stopped since.    For the most part I have been lucky and have had some pretty good employers and jobs.   I have been been blessed to not only have a great career but one that has allowed me to have a great life and experience the changes of the world of technology.     I have  had the opportunity to be a rising star and a be a leader in different business settings.   I thrived in that environment, thought at times it was all consuming. There were sacrifices made by not just me, but my friends and family as well. At times I became my career and it became me.

Now that I am am unemployed and of a certain age,  I am looking at the idea of moving back to a work in role of a worker bee rather than a leader.   I suspect that it will be hard after years of being a leader, but it is now someone else’s time to shine. I want to leave at the end of the work day, knowing I did the best job possible for that time, but the work day is over and I get to leave.  I no longer wish to be at my desk at 6:00 in the morning and still be there at 6:30 at night.  More importantly,  I don’t want my mind to race at night mulling over business problems and wondering how I can improve the situation.   It is now my time to make a contribution in ways with my talents outside of my job.  Those extra hours at work have a new place to go.  I have in the given past, but my heart tells me it is now time to look at more and different ways to give back to my community.    My creative muse is screaming to get out and play.     The impulsive person in me, who has been under lock and key is just clawing to get out, and do something spur of the moment.

So as I celebrate five years blogging here at LookingOutTheWindow, I invite you to ride along on the next chapter as I explore life looking out a new window and what I find along the way.

Life Balance Never Goes Out of Style

This afternoon RangerSir and I spent some time watching a movie and playing cribbage.   We watched the Karate Kid, the original movie that is 30 years old.   One of things that struck me is that one of the key overriding messages that Mr. Miyagi kept on delivering was about life balance for Daniel.    Thirty years ago there talking about life balance for a young kid, and today I talk about it as well.  

I am still working very hard to find a good balance in work and personal life.   I am trying to finding time to do all those things that I have been pushing aside for later when I have more time and work is less demanding.   I am meeting with some success in these efforts to find that balance.  Just like Daniel in the movie I have to practice things over and over and then suddenly the light bulb goes off and I get it.

I am back to full-time work for the next three months.   It is the busiest time of the year for the nonprofit I work for.   It is easy to get caught up in the efforts to get it all done today.    Already I am often working long work days even though I have been back only a short time.   I keep reminding myself the life balance lessons I have learned when my hours  were cut.    It doesn’t always work, but I am working hard to remind myself, that life is better when I life a more balanced life.

Today should have been my first try at a book club.   Unfortunately I read the first two chapters and found the book dry and it wasn’t doing much for me.   I decided that I will try this again later, but I want to read a book that doesn’t feel like a struggle each page I read.   Right now was the right time to let go of this.   I plan to watch what books they select to read in the future, and try it again, when the book is a better fit.

I am still working towards the 50,000 words that is an imaginary number that according to National Novel Writing Month says you did it.   I am not always writing every day but I am moving forward.   Some days there are enough things going on that writing that day just doesn’t work.   I have a brief moment of regret when I don’t write that day, but it it doesn’t fit, it has to be let go for the day and move on to the next one.

RangerSir and I are on work schedules that don’t mesh at all, by that I mean that our days off do not overlap.   Each of us are working hard at finding meaningful things to do together each day,  when I am still in my office when he walks in the door late at night and dinner is often not started. It would be so easy to blow dinner off and both of us unwind alone laying around the living room.  Instead we have taken to having a good glass of wine with dinner every night.   We are using the process of setting a more formal table every night as a tool to help us do more than dine and dash.   We discuss the day, talk about our observations, discuss politics, and share a dream or idea.   It really doesn’t matter what we talk about it is is that slow conversation that we both are enjoying together.

I am learning that balance in life doesn’t come easy.   You have to want it enough to be willing to fight for it.   If you don’t someone or something else will grab your life and suddenly it is out of control.

Novel Progress Report

Well I am nine days into this adventure and still going strong.   I have written just over 14,000 words.   This is good in that I am on target to finish if I continue to write like I have been.    But when I think about my goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month it is true that I am not very far in the process.  I sometimes wonder what I have written so far, and RangerSir has hinted he’d like to read it.  I have started this process before and not finished each time so am going to write until the voices in my head tell me it is over or the end of the month whichever comes first.   No getting diverted by early editing.

The good part of all of this writing is that for the most part my real life has not gone down the toilet or put on hold because I am spending all my time writing.   I still have a my job and show up and work each day.   I am carrying my load around the house, not letting RangerSir do a disproportionate amount of the general household chores ( I have a white chicken chilli in the crock pot, my last load of laundry in the drier, and manged to go to down and grocery shop before the mega storm arrives).  I still have carved out time to enjoy some of my other creative ventures including teaching a class, making some cards, blogging a little and reading some for pleasure.   Now that it sounds like I am having it all that is not true, my exercise program in almost nonexistent and I have two Christmas gifts to make that are not even started.    Life isn’t perfect but it is damn good and someday who knows I may call myself a novelist.   You just have to write one not publish one to call yourself novelist, but if I get lucky I could do both.

Now it is time to close this off and get back to the business of writing.

Long Days, Quiet Nights

Today folks are working more hours and getting away from work less and less.   They are plugged in and connected in ways we never dreamed of ten or even five years ago.   Folks check in at work after hours and when they are on vacation.   Either they are checking in or someone is calling them.  They are becoming stressed out because they are always on.  Always on call.   Always at least mentally at work.

I am getting ready for another week on the road.   Ramping up for all that I have to be prepared for when working away from the office is intense.  My daily pedometer has been logging less than 1,000 steps daily.   That tells you how tied to my desk I have been.    There is the juggling of my regular workday along with all the extras of preparing for presentations, meetings, collections of fees and more.    It always seems like folks know that if they don’t call me now they will be sunk for a week.   The interruptions are constant and my stream of concentration be broken over and over.    In spite of it all I plugged on working long days, most more than ten hours, to be prepared for this road trip.  Yet I did manage to find some way to create balance and limits while work was attempting to take over my life each day, I fought back with quiet nights.

When I worked, I worked, and when I was done I was done.    That meant at the end of the night  I closed the office door in the lower level of my house where I work.   The phone was no longer answered, the cell phone was turned off, and the work pc was turned off.  No calls. No text.  No email.   I might have worked long hours, but when I called it quits there was no going back until the following morning.  No one died.   No irreparable harm came to my employer.   Nothing happened that waiting for 12 hours caused the end of the world.

Each night RangerSir and I  ate a real dinner together.   It often meant we were eating at 8pm, but it was a meal, not something out of a box nuked.  Together RangerSir and I made dinner talking about our workday and catching up with all that brought us to this point in the day.   Once our meal was plated everything changed.   No work talk, not woe is me, or additional rehash of the trials of work.   We ate some nights in companionable silence other nights we talked about projects for the house or trips we wanted to take, news we had heard on the radio, or  a new playlist one of us was think of putting on our iPod.  Things of trivial nature, but definitely not work.

After dinner RangerSir spent some time with his favorite unwind the TV, and I with a book.    It did not make either of us any less tired, nor take away from the stress of our jobs the next day, but it did give us time to refresh our souls and enjoy a quiet night.

Reminder of What Is Important

I have been offline for the most part recently.   I traveled away from home in January for work and then I broke a shoulder.   I had lots of personal things going on and really did not feel sharing.  When I blog, I want it to be something more than woe is me.   I want each post to give at least one person who reads it a  one moment of pause, reflection, inspiration, a smile, a laugh, jog a memory, or shed a tear.    I never want you to feel the time you spent on my post was a complete waste your time.

I was laid up with the fracture such that  typing was slow and cumbersome.    I was ready  a few days into the discovery of my broke shoulder to have my life back.      I did online research and talked with my orthopedic surgeon about my type of break.   Together with the doctor, I  examined two options and I elected the most restrictive option initially, but with the shortest period of restrictions and most complete physical recovery.      I will freely admit that it has been rotten being so restricted.    I have been on restricted movement for four weeks and have two more to go until the intense restrictions are lifted.  Or at least that is the plan and so far things look to be running on schedule.

During the time I have been laid up,  we have had four contemporary  colleagues and friends who have passed away.  It has caused a lot of reflection here.    RangerSir and I have started to reexamined our end of life directives.   We are making updates and making sure everyone is on the same page regarding our wishes.  We did them when we moved to Montana and not have reexamined them in too long.    Not only have we started looking again at our end of life plans, but we also looked again at how we were spending our current lives.   We left the high stress, competitive lifestyle of Fortune 500 companies behind for a reason.   We are again talking about those reasons.  We were raised with the good Midwestern work ethic, and Lutheran guilt.   It makes us great hard-working employees, and we easily find self-induced guilt to make us work longer and longer hours.   We have been reminded time is short.   We need to do our best job; give 110% and the go home and embrace the life we want to live.    Here is to working towards that goal

Reflecting on Changes

Lately I have been noticing lots of changes in myself.   I spent the morning reflecting on that.  Looking out the window thinking and letting my mind wander.

change-web

I came to realize that I am being more true myself lately.   Withdrawing from that which prevents that, and moving toward that which allows me to surface.

My lifetime friend and her husband recently visited.   It was wonderful to see her and connect with her in person.  It is a wonderful kind of friendship that I only have a few of.   She is one of the very few people I can freely be myself with.  We spent time talking not so much catching up but talking about ourselves and our futures; what we are doing that brings us joy and what we should be doing more of.

I have come to realize that this visit broke the dam of being what I thought I needed to be and allowed me to move toward what I want to be.   I am sort of a crazy, creative, risk taking, free-spirit, earth mama  who remembers the days of being very short of money.    It makes for an oxymoron sort of way of looking a life.   As much as I yearn for and feel best when I am functioning on the wild child right-side of my brain,  I am  one who understands that you need a job for money, and money for shelter and food.   So there is a piece of left brain that does indeed work and overrides the right side, because I like to eat and don’t want to be homeless.   Sometimes that left side goes crazy with craving to provide that stability that I get bogged down.  They can both co-exist, work and play well together in my life.   I just need to help find that balance.

You spend roughly 1/3 of your day in bed, 1/3 working (likely more than that), and the rest is your time.

I can’t change the amount of time I spend in bed too much, my body likes sleep.  Most of us need a certain amount of sleep for good health.

The amount of time we spend at work used to be eight hours a day and now for most folks the number is moving up as we let work creep more in to our personal lives.   It is hard for all of us as we need money to pay the bills.   For most of us that is jobs. Times are hard and if you have a job you feel lucky.   Often time we let jobs become us, define us  because we spend so much of our life at our jobs.  Been there, done that and not going back.  For some becoming one with the job works, Steve Jobs famous quote makes me think he found it.   For most of the rest of us it is just a facet of our life.   If we are lucky we like our job and co-workers.   In reality though there is a certain amount of protocol that we abide to when working, because it is what is expected while we are at work.   Most of our co-workers we do not socialize with in our off hours, not that they are not nice people, just not much in common besides your job.   So for your workday you spend most of your time being a good worker bee, which may not have much in common with you, besides your amazing skill set that your employer utilizes.

What I can change is how I utilize my free time.   Maybe free time isn’t the right word for it.  It is a precious commodity and it is mine.   To be used as I see fit.  I don’t need to justify what I do with that time.   None of us should.   How many times have we been enjoying an activity when we say I should…..you fill in the blank.   And if you don’t do the should what will happen??   Is there really a dire consequence of not doing the should and staying in the moment of the activity we are enjoying?   If not, I challenge you to do more of what you are enjoying and do less of the should.   So moving forward I am going to share more of the wild-child, earth mamma creative moments.   Maybe they will inspire you to do more of what you enjoy but have been missing.