Ahhhh, the dog days of summer. Rest, relax...crawl out of bed late, stay up watching the sun go down with a glass of wine..the sleepy breath of a warm summer wind floats over us. Idyllic summer, blue skies, picnics....bliss..
Uhh, wait a minute! What the heck? My summers usually consist of juggling childcare options, drop offs, pick ups, run to work here, turn around, teach a class there, get home, drop off kids to hubby, grumpy kids, no money, classes down, expenses up, plan a weekend trip, cancel weekend trip need to work because Sean is home to look after kids, class planning, class promoting, finding work for fall, talking to prospective clients, delivering flyers, panicking, arguing, rushing. Well, you get the gist, right? Before I know it I'm rushing the kids out to buy pencil cases for back-to-school and I'm devastated because all the time I looked forward to was thrown out the window. Don't get me wrong, I loved what time I had with my gorgeous kids, but was I actually present for it?
I am a certifiable workaholic and licensed perfectionist. If I am not actively doing something, I am planning it, worrying about it and intending to get it done. It is likely that my state of doing nothing is actually causing me anxiety and stress. I have a hard time watching a TV Show, reading a book, going bowling, because I can't come out of my, "zone" and do only one thing. This is me, most of the time.
I am constantly driven to be excellent in EVERYTHING, and I always fulfill my potential. But I had forgotten how to live.
This summer I vowed things would be different. I consciously made changes that would have resounding effects for my family and myself. I accepted less work, giving up classes to other instructors, turned down some insanely excellent opportunities. It hurt everytime I said no, knowing in my heart that these chances were gone, and that come fall I would regret this. Also, we had to survive on far less money for the summer months with my reduced hours. But I wanted to put some things in place over the summer holidays, with the thought that if I did things right when I was not busy, these would become habitual and stay in place as my workload/stress load increased.
These were my plans for summer:
a) to relax. Watch a movie, read, sit outdoors, play on a swing, go for walks (and runs - I'm not giving up that!) I scheduled in complete days off and made myself take them regardless of what the business had left hanging. I slept in until the kids would pry my eyes open and jump on the bed wanting to get out and play.
I grabbed them and tickled their toes and hung them upside down. I practised headstands with them. I giggled at silly movies they made me watch, and watched their eyes light up at "adult" movies like Jurassic Park. I danced in the kitchen with Amy. I ducked when David launched his football at my head. I worked hard to forget the things I may be missing that would be good for the business. It was hard.
b) to learn to cook. Admittedly for the last few years, cooking for me had become dumping one box and one can into a pot and adding a veggie to the side. We bought salad dressing in a bottle, pasta in a pouch and soup in a can. We ate out, not all the time, but probably too much.The scary part is, even at that time, we still ate more healthily than most families. In the spring I read a book called, "Cooked" by Michael Pollan, and it inspired me to bake my own bread. That first loaf changed everything. Over the summer I scheduled myself a cooking time every week, and started to work. I made a series of dishes in that time each week that I would freeze for meals to be pulled out, same with desserts, bread and now school lunches.
I loved that cooking time. I also loved that the whole family gravitated to the kitchen unbidden during the process as well. Amy is now my baking sous chef, David is interested in cooking classes and learning more (he can now make himself a scrambled egg and toast!) and Sean and I have found a new way to share. I have made a huge batch of tomato sauce, peanut butter, artisan, whole wheat and loaf bread, naans, pitas, breadsticks, granola bars, hummus, soups, chicken stock, casseroles, rose sauces, salad dressings and the list goes on. It has truly changed the way we eat, live and nourish ourselves in so many ways.
It is something special to sit and eat a meal made entirely by your own hand.
c) to be social and reconnect with people I love, past and present. This one is harder - schedules can be a huge road block. BUT with that in mind, sometimes just the invitation to dinner, phone call to chat etc...can be the reconnection itself. We have spoken with several old friends - and have plans with several more. We still have a ways to go. My business has certainly pushed my social life to the backburner, but I know that soon our "daytimers" will be full again and I will be back where I belong - with people! And now I can feed them excellent food - see it all ties in!
d) to schedule my priorities into my day. I wake-up at 5:40am and workout. Make the kids and Sean (with everyone helping) a fresh breakfast. Get ready for work.....I schedule in time for business marketing and accounting, scheduling etc.. I schedule in house cleaning, groceries and laundry etc....I know where I'll be and when I'll be there.
So four HUGE changes were implemented over the summer months (and I also gave up sugar, but that's another blog) and the results are pretty clear as I return to my normal work week. Keep in mind that I work a 36 hour "work week", not including travel time (4-6hrs/week), or "homework" class planning, notes, marketing, etc (another 5-12 hours/week ave.) Basically I have added another whole work day or more with the changes above. YAY! Even more busy, right? Oddly, no! I find that now my priorities have switched I have had time for:
- a shopping day and lunch at Port Perry with a dear friend
- a date at the Toronto Film Festival with some awesome friends
- an after dinner walk every day with the family
- a chapter each day of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" read to the kids (we're going ot see the movie soon!)
-an actual investment in watching tv. Rather than working, cleaning and watching all at the same time.
- a workout or stretch session 6 days a week - as a result my body feels awesome, I am less tired and less sore
-actually going to the movies. Like in jeans, and a blouse.
- going out in public in non-lycra pants and with A REAL BRA! Not a sports bra! and putting on non-waterproof make-up!
-a facial. Yes - I did! totally treated myself.
-movie in the park event with the family. And I didn't even take my phone. I know!
And interestingly enough, not one opportunity passed me by. When I started up my fall session I had more than I could handle thrown at me. And you know what I did with that blessing? Gladly passed it along. My business is going as well, or better than forecast, my shifts and classes in Oshawa and the Senior's Centre are balanced perfectly so I can be home to pick up the kids and have dinner at home. I am finished my day generally by 9:30pm latest - and am REALLY finished - no checking emails, sending reports, studying and working until 2am in the morning (unless absolutely necessary). I now know everything tht happens to each of my family members during their days, and this delights me.
"happiness is having everything you need, along with the ability to recognize and be grateful for it" Annie Tiffin
I have found my balance. I will have to work hard to keep myself motivated and in routine, but I'm not too worried about a little hard work. It has the best rewards.
Find Your CORE!