Posts Tagged: work life balance

looking to land

The recent period of long, intense hours in my job have kept me away from yoga class for two weeks. Yesterday I finally went back and I didn’t feel any less fit or able after the absence, but my balance was off kilter.  It took everything I had to move into some of the poses, and more of that to stay there.  It wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that yesterday’s imbalance is indicative of a lack of equilibrium that goes beyond that mat in a yoga studio.

It hasn’t been all bad up to now; only it seems that since the heavy period ended, I’m flying around trying to find a place to land.  Or maybe I’m just resisting the landing, wanting to be floated along on the waves of air like that gull I watched the other day. 

The big proposal went in last Friday and as I handed it off to the person who would print it and deliver it, I felt like I was handing her a 100 pound weight.  I walked out of the office and opened my eyes to acknowledge the approaching weekend with a wagonload of gratitude.  Apros pos, because it was Thanksgiving, and three days of freedom sat on my horizon, and each of those three days was forecasted to be spectacular – sunshine and 20+C temperatures.  It was like someone was handing us those days as a reminder to be thankful. 

And it was easy to be thankful every minute of those three days; they were bright, clear, soft and breezy, and the nights cooled down for the best kind of open window sleeping. 

Actually, the sleeping didn’t come for me proper until the following Tuesday, another indication of my off-kilter state.  But it didn’t matter; when you get days like that, it’s easy to climb out of your petty personal concerns. 

Monday, Thanksgiving Day, I sat in the sun and watched some fellas bustling around on a sailboat, readying her to sail.  I felt a stab of envy a little while later as I watched them glide off into the harbour.  As her sails rose in the sunlight, I wished I could lie on that deck, an invisible stowaway drifting off to anywhere. 

I was carrying a journal and in it I wondered where the escape desires were coming from.  I hadn’t experienced them in a long time, since years ago when I was so desperate to leave a job and a city.  I’m not feeling anything like that now; in fact I would even say I am pretty content about things. 

I know the sailboat desires were just me wanting to get back on an even keel.  (Schmaltzy pun, but it’s appropriate.)  I wrote a little more and painted a little and got not a little pleasure in the process, but my mind wandered, lost in the freedom of time – like that floating bird. 

My girls had gently nudged me into the idea of Thanksgiving on Friday.  Anticipating the weather and at least one more rooftop dinner, I couldn’t fathom anything like a traditional meal.  I was tired.  But they eased me into that idea too; and though we sat in the sun on the rooftop patio to enjoy it, we had a meal of turkey breast and roasted potatoes and beets and green beans and squash and even pumpkin pie.

I went to bed that night, grateful again, and still unable to sleep. 

Things are quieting at work and as another week approaches I'm considering the landing.  I'll keep working at my Tree Pose; maybe that will help.

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two hours a day

One can become complacent about things.  Just going about the task of getting to work every day and doing all of the things otherwise required to take care of one’s life, including those labelled fun and enriching, is busy. 

There are a few reasons why I stayed in what was, for the most part, the wrong job for three and a half years.  Mostly, it was because I was appreciated.  I work in business development, and I’m pretty good at creating a good “face” for the company I’m representing.  I created a fresh “brand” for our proposals and other documentation, and I was considered an integral part of the proposal development teams. 

A good part of the success of any proposal writer is the ability to persevere under pressure, and spiking hours.  I must say, I dig the pace of proposal writing; the constant turnover of projects appeals to me.  I work better under pressure, and I love the feeling of producing something of a high standard under difficult conditions.  

But I had no true understanding of our product (software solutions), nor the desire to, really.  I don’t have a brain wired to understand this kind of technology.  I didn’t really need to – it was the specialists that had to write up the solutions – they were the ones inventing them and had to be the ones describing them.  It was cool to watch the process of a team designing a custom solution for a client – a creative process working in a highly technical environment.  But I always felt outside of that, and thus not satisfied with my role in it. 

They appreciated me, and they paid me to stay.  My financial situation was substantially improved in my tenure there, but in the end, I don’t live for money.  Job satisfaction is more important to me.

There were a number of times over the past three and a half years that I started to look for a new job, but complacency took over and I just carried on.  I was “comfortable;” doing work that, while not satisfying on a personal level, gained me the respect of the company.  Recently though, as recruiters started calling, it seemed the time for change was right. 

The long commute had started to wear me down.  My loyal blogland friends will know that the commute was often a source of inspiration for this space, and that lately it has become less so.  The crowds of rush hour, and the inherent (?) rudeness, anonymity, unseeing, cattle-like behaviour just plain depressed me.  I found it harder and harder to live the rule, “be the change you want to see” and I don’t want to be cattle.

So I’ve been entertaining opportunities presented to me by these recruiters that seem to have come calling all at once.  There was an almost-hiring at Christmas.  I was excited because the office was near to my home.  But really, the work sounded much like what I do now – lots of coordinating, not much challenge.  There were lots of opportunities opening up in the area where I work now, but what’s the point?  Fresh job/same commute is only addressing half my problem.

But then, another recruiter called with another address that caught my attention.  And then an enjoyable (yes, enjoyable) initial phone interview with my would-be manager, who described a job that sounded challenging and exciting – more writing, less coordinating.  There was another in-person interview over lunch, just as enjoyable as the first.  I was being presented with the opportunity to develop my own job (not previously held by anyone), and to help another company grow in an area where they want to expand.  There is opportunity for travel, to develop my skills, better benefits and yes, a little more money.

And I can walk to work.  I live in the heart of the city because I love the vibrancy, the diversity, colour, sights, oddities, action and surprises.  You can't know how gratified I am for the opportunity to move out of the underground tunnels and up to the sidewalks.

The best part of all:  two hours a day, formerly spent travelling to and from work, mostly underground, will be mine again.  Two hours a day.  That's ten hours a week, forty hours a month…

All the riches in the world can’t replace that.

this day is mine

I’ve had a number of dreams of the same theme lately.  This dream has recurred in various forms all my life.  If I were more perceptive, I’d have probably found that I dream this dream during periods like this one – when I’m not accomplishing what I want/need.  In this dream, I’ve got somewhere to go or something to do, almost always somewhere or something important.  But I never get going.  Something is always holding me back.  Usually me.  Like I can’t find something I decide I need to take along.  Or I can’t find a phone number because I decide I need to make a call before I go.  There’s always a distraction and the thing that needs to get done never gets done.

Clearly that dream is reflecting my life.  Work has robbed much of my free time over the past few weeks.  It’s the nature of my job doing proposals.  It ebbs and flows and sometimes the flows are more like floods.   I’ve been missing my blogging world – it’s a project I feel I’ve left hanging in the wind.  And I’ve missed reading my favourites and finding new favourites, and I miss seeing you show up at my space.  I've got a lovely new blogspace and I've yet to fill it up with new writing.  In fact I’ve yet to finish building it!

But I'm back.  It's going to be a catching up Saturday.  Starting with this.  And then catching up with my current online class, the members of which are probably wondering about the instructor’s sudden lack of engagement.  And my home is a tip.  The Chinese food and Swiss Chalet containers indicate that maybe the stretch of fitful, dream-packed sleeping might also be related to a need for home cooked food.  The laundry is piled high.  The bathroom needs a scrub. 

This day is mine and it feels really good. 

And I bet you ten dollars there will be no dreams of getting-nowhere-frustration tonight.