Braised Cipollini Onions
and some thoughts on work-life balance
It’s yet another stretch of rainy, gray days here in upstate New York. I’ve always known myself to be guided by sunshine but it’s even more so as I grow older. Perhaps the more years we live collecting memories, they all–even the good ones, create a wall of clutter in our minds, forcing us to look harder for the cracks of light?
I took a very necessary six days off work recently. They were filled with a little restlessness, some very important catching up with an old friend, thrift shopping with the kids and ended lugging Isabella’s belongings down a few flights of stairs and across campus to her summer housing (she did lots of schlepping, too!). This will be the first summer we’re apart, while she works at the farm on campus.
Six days off, and they didn’t feel like enough. I’ve been wondering a lot lately who decided we should commit 5 out of 7 days to work, with only 2 left for ourselves. I wish corporate life had built in sabbaticals, to truly take time to step away and recharge, develop ourselves personally to come back stronger–mentally, emotionally, and physically. I am incredibly fortunate to have a job I truly enjoy with amazing benefits, and with a generous vacation allowance–six weeks!, compared to most in America, so in a big way my even thinking these thoughts, let alone writing them, feels whiny and complaining without true merit–or have we just been conditioned to think that of the current work situation?
Anyway, what I have to remind myself, in very cyclical patterns, is that it is my responsibility to create the work-life balance I seek. It is not easy. It takes confidence to say no to meetings, and diligence in managing my schedule to block off time to get work done. I update my slack status with the details of my day to manage colleagues' expectations for replies, hoping that just maybe it will inspire other colleagues to do the same. Of course, I fail miserably sometimes, breaking my own boundaries, working well past an acceptable hour for any kind of balance. I logged back online after vacation with the promise of signing off promptly at 5:30pm after six hours of zoom calls. The reality is I unplugged at 8:45pm.
Today was the chance to do better. I still woke early, as I love the quiet hours of morning before the rest of the world seems to wake. I did my workout, wrote in my journal, read some–both the newspaper and a book, and then made my coffee and breakfast. I’ve got a hard stop around 6pm for a date night with the husband. Whatever doesn’t get done today will just have to wait until tomorrow. Some days you win, some days you learn you need to try harder, and some days you break even. Notice there’s no losing in any of these scenarios. I believe the moment we add that word to our existence, we set ourselves up for failure.
I hope the week has been kind and gentle, or at least provided some pockets of calm to get you across the finish line. Be well, and remember to be a good ripple as you go about your days. –xo, j.
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