So, it is the end of my week’s vacation: and through a combination necessity and will, I have actually taken a proper vacation from work. Out of Office autoreply on and emails ignored (with no small measure of guilt). I felt I needed a week between my postdoc and my first faculty position. Well… really, I didn’t feel that I needed a week, but I didn’t want to realize from a place of mental ill-health, 8-months down the road, that I did. So, a break I took.
Of course with a home to create, this has not exactly been an idle time. Nonetheless, I have saved some time for myself; evenings especially, and the weekend. Leaving me at a loose end: what to do with myself? Before the move, I was guilty before of doing too much: accepting every invitation, giving my all to every social occasion and opportunity, always being 1/2 in work mode, working out twice a day, pushing my body to the limits each time and yet rushing through my workouts so I could meet my friends / answer that email / get that thing done. I don’t think I ever just ‘was’. I had lost my tendency to complete activities in stillness and solitude.
It was strange at first: to have time on my hands. Strange and quite isolating; like I said, I am used to filling every space in my calendar. I didn’t know what to do but slowly found myself gravitating towards certain activities: cooking, baking, horticulture, reading fiction, even (in desperation 😉 ) just hanging out with the husband. I could while away the hours planning my veggie garden and sowing the seeds, tending my orchids, baking homemade bread from scratch. And feel very calm after doing them. Or even, calm does not describe it: centered and complete. Like ‘zen’ was the perfect word for this feeling. I remembered that these were things I used to do all the time before life got crazy.
So… now I feel I am at a cross roads. I have no social obligations here, no weekly gym classes, no friends nearby who I am dying to see. I am starting work with only a few papers to tidy up and submit after co-author revisions: all my postdoc papers being done, I have no real work obligations yet. I have dropped my workout schedule to zilch due to busy-ness, shock at Texas heat, a lack of a gym membership and some prenatal bleeding (no worries… all good…. just got a bit over strained with the move); I am basically starting from scrtach on the fitness front it has been so long. So: I can be selective in what I choose to do, and of course, I can choose to do nothing. Literally, I feel like I have been offered a fabulous opportunity to rebuild my life (time) as I like.
Within reason of course: I want to be very successful and productive at work, I want to remain reasonably fit and healthy, I want to have friends and actively engage in church life. But I don’t want the frenetic pace of before, the feeling that I am not giving anything my all, the feeling that I am a hands-grasp from exhaustion / burn out. That I am running on caffeine and wondering how I am going to give my all to my next activity.
In particular: I want to stop worrying about how I am going to fit a child into my life, and start waiting for a child to complete a part my life (crazy first few months not withstanding). My husband has always been very good at this: saying no, keeping ‘me’ time, not over stretching himself. I don’t know exactly where my balance lies yet… but I hope I still achieve, and still have success while actually enjoying it – rather than congratulating myself as I head into the next thing. I literally want to stop and appreciate the beauty in life.
It will take some examining as to why I have lived my life like that: fear of rejection, fear of missing out, fear of failure. Partly the desire to excel at everything: why publish 3 papers a year,w hen you could do 4? Why ‘take up jogging’ when you could train for a half marathon? Why stop there – why not complete Tough Mudder? But, I think I came dangerously close to ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None’, or ‘success on paper, but failure in spirit’: how much was I really there for my friends? How much in my exhausted state did I really give them? How great was my Science, when I was so very focused on completing more than was expected and / or asked? It is not the spiritual life I wanted. I don’t feel I was giving my best to Earth.
It will take some work, and I am sure I will make mistakes. I am not even 100% sure what I am looking for in balance, and a sense of the holistic, and stillness and being. But, with all my newly found free time: I’ll keep you posted. 🙂