Friday, September 27, 2013

The work-life balance?

So, I have been thinking a lot lately about what we discuss often at my university--the "work-life balance."

There is the old question of whether one works to live or lives to work.  At my institution there are those who seek "balance" between work and life, and others who don't think a measured balance is possible, but who hope for a livable coexistence. 

Most recently, I ran into an insightful bit on this issue on this blog, where the author, Karen Maezer Miller, makes this point:
"Work is not a distraction from your life; it is not a detour, hindrance or necessary evil. If you think this way it is the wrong view. When you are working, work is your life. Care for it as you care for yourself." 
This struck such a chord in me.  I am still not entirely sure that I want to stay in the academic gig that I am in, or live in the city where I live.  But, right now, I am here.  I want to live my work mindfully, and to be, fully, where I am right now.  Isn't that what it's all about anyway?  

This does not mean that I am willing to let work take over my every waking moment.  I am determined not to do that, actually.  But it is about focus and acceptance when the work time comes, and about being able to let it go for other parts of life when it's time for that, too.

I hope that I can stay with this insight and commitment as the craze of October takes over my work.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


The day isn't ruined if I don't go for my morning walk.

Peanut butter sandwiches (on wheat bread) with fruit and milk for dinner is better for my kids than take-out.  

It's better to have students understand material and fall "behind" on the schedule than to rush in order to keep up.

However, it is worth keeping my house picked up (mostly), because it makes the atmosphere here calmer.  

It's okay to call my new routine of drinking chai latte in the afternoon an affection for the drink rather than an obsession with it.

In short: today I noticed that sanity matters. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Day in the Life (perhaps a new theme?)

Last Saturday:

After my usual morning walk, it was coffee in a travel mug and a trip to see my mother in Rockport.  (See all those kitchen cabinets?  My dad built those!)

While there, I had to rip out some knitting...and ended up with a most amusing extra-large skein of yarn.  It kind of looks like a mummy.  Note the ever-present tea cups that always seem to adorn my mother's kitchen table.

The kids also measured their recent growth against Grandma--who used to be 5'4", but at 87 (and after 8 kids) she's now 4'11".

Mid afternoon was occupied with a trip to the grocery store and some work.

The day ended with a novel.  

Some days are just good.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bracketing my Day

I began my work day punching holes in countless pages of documentation for my promotion portfolio.  I was exhausted by the time that I got to class, and after it completely deflated.  

My day came to a close in the craft room.  Anya drew a picture for friends, Toonces lorded over us all on top of the karate dummy, and I perused my first module from an online wholefoods workshop that I am taking here.  

It was lovely to unwind a bit with such life-affirming course material.  But, did you notice that last picture?  I had to punch more holes in paper.

One task completed, a new adventure started.  Quite a banner day!

Monday, September 9, 2013

More from the "What a Girl" Pile

Tonight Anya said to me "I keep thinking about post-it notes and coffee."  And I told her "That pretty much sums up my life."

Maybe she'll take after her Mum?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Taking a Deep Breath

Today was an ordinary day.  I worked a little, we had a mid-day endocrine appointment.  There was a visit to the library, and dinner to make.  Howard and I made a quick trip for coffee (chai for me).  

But tomorrow the new semester begins.  It's been a while since I've stepped into the flow of the semester, having been on academic leave last spring.  

Deep breaths, yes?  One step at a time.  Maybe this semester I can figure out how to make it work with a saner pace, or at least not have the pace unnerve me.  I am determined to bring better balance to my life.

Meantime, today was a most enjoyable last day of summer.

How have you said goodbye to summer?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

In England

Just back from England--Sheffield to be exact--from an international women and gender history conference.  As most people who know me are aware, I do not enjoy traveling. But this conference experience--my first visit to England--was great.

Okay, admittedly (and in retrospect I should have expected this of us) Nicola and I couldn't find each other in Paddington station when I arrived in London.  I had to travel to Sheffield on my own.  But, once we were there we had a grand time.  

I had good coffee, good food, good wine...and, most important: great company.  I got to see Jo before and after our panel; it's crazy to think that I haven't seen her in about three years.  I had lunch with Minnie, my lifelong mentor and one of the keynote speakers (so inspiring) at the conference.  Nicola even let me tag along with some of her friends for definitively English experiences: cream tea, a walk in the Yorkshire countryside, and time in a traditional pub and beer garden.  

The panel itself was fabulous.  Only a few in attendance, but we were all engaged in such energizing intellectual exchange, and now we have plans to expand our comparisons of domestic servitude world wide, perhaps aiming to publish the pieces together.  I love the collaborative energy of a conference like this.  So little ego, so much genuine interest in sharing ideas and moving them forward.

I even really liked Sheffield itself.  I wasn't expecting much, as I'd been told not to.  Sheffield was once a big industrial city, but its glory days are past.  Yet, I found the midlands beautiful, and I loved how close to the countryside it is.  Moreover, it's a friendly city with a livable downtown.  It's not posh, but then again that was one of its draws for me I suppose (given my blue-collar origins).  

Oh, and though the skies were sometimes gray, it didn't rain!  And it was wonderfully cool in Sheffield.

I had been rather dreading this trip--the travel, feeling uncertain about my paper, and (especially) feeling too rushed doing all this right before the start of the semester.  But, miracle of miracles, this time energized me and reminded me about aspects of my work that I love.  That, plus I got to hang out with really great people the whole time.

What great surprises have you experienced lately?