Work – Life – Balance


Nearly ten years ago I walked away from the Fortune 100 corporate environment in technology to follow love and dreams. Started my own business with the thought that I’d have more time for real life activities…ha! Circumstances altered that path and for a while, after starting over in another state, I worked multiple temporary part-time jobs in other arenas besides the one that I cut my corporate teeth in. But the technology sector was where I knew my strengths and soon I was back in that field, but in a much smaller company. I thought the smaller size might make it more tolerable, might give me more satisfaction. I will say that being in a company where the owner walks up to your desk and asks how things are going does make a big difference. Talk about pressure! In the larger corporate environments, you are but a cog in a wheel – perhaps a well-paid cog, but people can come and go and not much changes. Not so in a tiny company. That lesson was hammered home again this week when our only qualified full-time Project Manager was abruptly fired for a conference call statement made in a moment of unthinking – a statement that cost the company a very large project and a big chunk of the projected revenue for the year. Now, in addition to my regular workload, I have inherited management of one of the projects as well. Hello twelve-hour work days without a lunch. Welcome back stress, someone I’ve been trying to avoid. Oh, and I have a few confessions to make: I like to do a good job. Quality is important to me. I have high personal standards and I expect others to have the same. I know people make mistakes, so when a mistake is made, admit it, own it and fix it. In these economic hard times, being employed is a gift in my opinion. I know so many that are not employed. I try to treat my employment with value; even though I seek to leave it in the near future I intend to do a good job until I do so.

And therein is the rub. For the short-term, I can handle this additional workload even though it comes at a cost – less time, more stress, more responsibility, less dollar-per-hour earnings (salaried workers don’t get overtime). But how long do I give it? I figure it will take thirty days to locate, interview and hire a new PM.

LOL. I started this post back on February 29th. Needless to say, the 12 hour days turned into 14 hours or more, no lunches, working on Sundays and a complete aversion to computers once my work day was finally complete. I have a new thankfulness for Shabbat – a day I am commanded not to work. I was asked to put off my vacation plans and did so. Therefore, no trip to the farm to weed out items to sell or to keep and store, no time to revel in the spring in the countryside, no photo journal opportunities….and there still isn’t a PM hired (although I did apply for the position).

In the interim, I’ve turned fifty. Eldest Child turned twenty-four. Days have blurred together until I finally admitted that I. Can’t. Do. It. All. So contrary to my nature, I took bill-paying monies and popped for a two-night stay on the beach with Eldest Child to celebrate both of our birthdays. It was great. I buried myself in “The Hunger Games” trilogy (via my Kindle app on Android), lolled in the sun (and got burned), walked on the beach, and visited small amounts of my favorite Tequila, Tarantula Azul. It was heavenly. I also did a lot of thinking. I met some folks who frequent RV sites for the summer since they are retired. Learned of some awesome places up north that I’d love to spend some time workamping. But I have had absolutely zero time to even DREAM of my dream, much less put any active work effort towards implementing my REAL LIFE.

There are some benefits to being in Florida in the spring time. There are the gorgeous sunsets and huge, golden full moons. There are the opportunities (even if untaken) of fabulous star views above the gently splashing waves. The gentle scents of plumeria that make walking the dog just before bed a delightful sensory experience. New sand hill crane fledglings, rather like ducklings on stilts.

But spring in Florida also colors me with sadness and longing for my dead husband. It was our time of year to snatch up ‘local’ places for a weekend and take moonlit strolls on the beach; to spend countless hours looking for my favorite shells; to sit on a balcony with a cocktail and people-watch, making up stories of who they were or why they were here. Spring and fall are the two seasons that make the lack of a partner a painful thing, the awakening and the tucking in times of the earth.

However, I am not certain that I will ever consider a partner again. I simply don’t trust people any more. People seem unable to just be. Unable to just be themselves rather than a hyped-up version. Unable to just sit, and be still. And I feel disconnected from others because my lifestyle dreams, desires, eating habits, beliefs…are all so out of step with what is taken for ‘normal’ these days. Should I ever get to the point that I consider a partnership, I can’t even begin to fathom where I’d look, or where I would find the energy to burrow into someone’s mind to get to know their dreams, their desires, their passions. So, like other things, this thought just simmers on the back burner. I guess I just don’t want it to go unattended, like a simmering pot that suddenly burns dry and turns acrid and has to be tossed out.

I don’t want that to be me.

Fifty doesn’t seem to feel older; but I do hope that it begins to feel wiser. I want to regain the one thing that is mine, and that is time and space to care for me. This post is the beginning of that attempt, once more.

Have some matzo brie over a camp stove, and kick back for me.

~Sheket

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