60 Weeks of Gratitude - Week 7
I have never been very good at asking for what I need or, sometimes even recognizing what I need. Everybody in my family has known that something was going to have to give long before I was willing to admit it. 2022 was insanely busy and at the end of the year, I felt completely drained. For the first time in thirteen years, I was working a full-time job along with my part-time content editing job, which I love. But, at the end of 2022, I had to admit that I couldn’t keep going at that pace.
I had a three-week break from my part-time job and it made me realize that I needed time that was just mine, when I wasn’t on somebody else’s clock, to recharge. I spoke with my part-time boss and we agreed to build in time off between projects. I think that will give me exactly what I need and hopefully will still provide the service that she needs. I am grateful that she understands and that she values what I bring to the table enough to be flexible.
In the corporate world, it is called work/life balance, and HR teams are always looking for ways to improve it, so employees are happier without impacting the bottom line. We all know how important it is to find balance. What I find hard is recognizing when I am out of balance. At the end of 2022, I was functioning, I was still getting through every day and getting most of my to-do list checked. But I was completely out of balance. I was stretched too thin, and because I never want to be the squeaky wheel, I just kept pushing forward. The days blurred together, one after the other and I never felt like I had the time or mental energy left over to do any of the me things on my checklist. I couldn’t wrap my mind around marketing even though I had Hush, Delilah, a wonderful, new book begging to be promoted. I let my relationships in the writing community go dormant because I had no energy to give. We ate out more last year than at any time in our lives, and I’m confident my stretchy pants can confirm that it has not been good for my health. I couldn’t wrap my mind around planning decent meals for my family, let alone doing the shopping required for those meals to take shape.
I often think about my sister, who always had a career. She had two kids who were heavily involved in activities. Every time I visited her, the house was clean, the laundry was put away, the kids were thriving, and the dogs were walked. How in the world do parents of young children do it all? My kids are self-sufficient at this stage, and I can’t imagine trying to do a full-time job when they were little, even if I had been able to work from home as I do now. I would have been completely burnt out. Is that where everybody is? Are they burning out trying to keep up with all of the things on the checklist?
On the weekends, my husband and I often spend a little time in front of the TV, watching digital nomads and vloggers who have disconnected from the daily grind. People who live on boats, travel the country/world in camper vans or live on small, self-sufficient farms. It is mesmerizing. It fills me with the strangest mix of nostalgia and longing.
What are we missing? Are we missing our connection to the land? Are we missing the freedom of movement from some cellular memory of a time when our ancestors were tribal and followed the herds? Are we just missing the down times between tasks when we can breathe and look away from the screen to see the horizon?
I didn’t think I was going to make a resolution for 2023, but it appears that I have. In 2023, I promise to take breaks, put my hands in the soil, and look out at the horizon more. I am going to find time to reconnect with the wonderful writing community that I lost in 2022. I am going to read my reviews and be reminded why I write. I am going to use the crock-pot a lot more and we are going to sit at the table for more meals. I am grateful for a few more breaks and for finally recognizing that it is okay to ask for what I need