Always, at this point in the year, I find myself wondering “Where has it gone?”. A woman I once worked with gave me this pearl of wisdom years ago:
“Time seems to go faster the older you get, but the time that goes the fastest always is the time between when the alarm clock rings and you have to be at work!”
I stopped working 8 months ago today. In some ways I feel that I have restored some balance in my life, although it seems odd to me that “balance” was restored by jettisoning work. In that awful term of the corporate world “work/life balance”, I would say that my life is now as lopsided as it was last Spring. Except it isn’t.
Why? Because there is no such thing as “work/life” balance. There is only life balance. One’s work should not be something that is balanced against the rest of your life, some counterweight on the scales to family, to hobbies, to learning, to your spiritual life, to health, to home, to everything else.
One of the problems I have realized, with my life now is that there are times when I feel that I haven’t accomplished anything. It’s easy to extrapolate this feeling, from one day of unaccomplished tasks to seven months of them. But that isn’t true. I have found that I need a “to do” list as much — maybe even more so — than I did before. I believe that I am more effective now because I do this routinely each morning.
What has surprised me in the last months?
* I don’t sleep in. And I like it. Generally speaking I get up around 6:30, about the same time I did when I was working. Why would I want to waste the day in bed?
* I don’t get distracted by things like television. I don’t think that I’ve watched daytime television at all, unless I’ve been in a hospital waiting room (there have been a few of them) or at the tire store (where I’ve been a few times as well — elderly parents; old, damaged tires).
* I didn’t realize that I had closets that I hadn’t cleaned out in 13 years. I had a lot of junk that I didn’t need. The people at GoodWill should know my name by now because of all of the trips I’ve made to donate stuff.
* I love it that my house is getting to the point where one might call it “organized” — something that I don’t think it has ever been. I make myself do housework routinely. The routine — clean out the fridge on Tuesdays, shop on Thursdays, laundry on Fridays — seems such a throwback to the lives of my grandmothers, but it makes a lot of sense. Could I have done this when I was working? Sure. But I didn’t. I still don’t like housework, but I do find small pleasures in knowing where things are and not being stressed out about it. If I go back to work (or when I go back…) I will need to work to keep the same patterns.
* I didn’t plan — who would? who could have predicted? — that so much of my time would be spent taking care of my son’s grandparents. But, if I could have known, or if it was the full intention behind my self-imposed “sabbatical”, I would not have realized either how difficult it would be — how tiring some days — nor how rewarding. Don’t get me wrong: I am not being a martyr. Knowing that I can do small acts of kindness, of giving, of assistance, is much more rewarding that I ever would have realized when I was on that George Jetson-like treadmill that is the corporate world. I didn’t think I had that capacity within me. Turns out, I just didn’t give the time to fostering that capacity.
* I had intended to write a novel during this time. So far, I haven’t done much with that. I did take a fiction-writing course which was a great boost to my confidence in my writing abilities. I’ve written a few short stories — all which need to be revised, but I need to let them “settle” for awhile. I’m going to start working on an idea I have today. Since it’s November 1, I decided that I would make it my goal to try for the 50,000 word goal of NANOWRIMO. In some ways, I think NANOWRIMO is silly. You can’t write a novel in 30 days. But, as a discipline in writing every day towards completing a work, I think it is okay. I did NANO a few years ago, but one week into the month, I came down with a nasty strain of the flu and didn’t do much of anything for a week. I fretted for a few days over how many more words I needed to write daily. Eventually that was such a monumental task that I just gave up, overwhelmed. I resurrected parts of that novel for my writing class, but that is not what I am going to work on. My goal is to write daily, to focus on an idea that I have. You can expect to see some of my musings about that work, and the process here in the coming month.
* When I started to blog again in July, I thought I would try to post everyday. It wasn’t until September that I actually did. I continued the practice in October, although there were a few days that I wasn’t able to post. I intend to continue to do this daily, although some posts may be slimmer than others. I also am thinking about starting a blog on Open Salon, but I’m trying to define what would be different than this one.
* That I would become so much more observant of the world around me. I think a large part of this is because I am taking photographs almost daily. Seeing the world through a camera lens lets you see the world in an entirely different way. If I only have one “success” from this sabbatical time (or whatever I should be calling it), I will claim my realization of the small daily difference in the natural world as that success. From when the trees start budding in Spring through the current Fall coloring, there are changes every single day. And I previously thought that nothing really changed in summer!
A friend of mine posted on Facebook today that she was posting something she was thankful for every day this month. I like that idea. You can expect to see some of those things that I am thankful for here this month. Even if you don’t post about it, consider doing the same: what in your world each day do you have to be thankful for?
If this post counted towards by NaNoWriMo daily count, I’d only be about 500 words short for the day. If I was worrying about it. I can do this writing thing, I think. Whether it ends up being something good, well, that’s something that will be determined sometime far past the end of this month.