It’s nearly the middle of July and summer is passing by too quickly, as it always does. My weeks are busier than they’ve been in a long time. I keep reminding myself to stay grounded inside of each day; to enjoy the hours, the minutes, the moments, instead of always keeping an eye on the weeks and months ahead. It’s a habit I’m not sure I’ll ever really master. If I could, maybe time would slow down a little bit.
I haven’t been here in a really long time. I keep telling myself I’m too busy, too tired to write. How is it that I’ve reached middle-age and somehow it feels that I have less time and energy than ever before in my life? I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s mainly a matter of perspective, one that I would like to change.
I’ve been bringing work home with me, both literally and figuratively. When I accepted a new position last September, I brought with me many of the responsibilities of my former job. I imagined this new job to be the answer to my prayers, one that would pull me out of a place of extreme limitation, away from a bad boss, and expand my growth opportunities. Oh, it did! In this new role, there is more work to do than I know how to get done. There doesn’t seem to be anything they don’t think I can do, and they throw it all at me. I mainly report to one manager, and have a “dotted line” to another. And I frequently continue to be the subject matter expert about things for which I’m no longer responsible. (I’ve always had a hard time saying no and I think I’m always still trying to prove myself.) My main boss constantly thanks me for the work I do. She frequently tells me I’m awesome and do amazing work. And yet something about the whole situation keeps me feeling that I’m falling short. On my last trip to the home office, I said to my boss, “I can’t wait until everything feels like old hat.” Without skipping a beat, she replied, “Never gonna happen.”
And that right there explains my problem. I’m working through every storm thinking there’s calm up ahead, except I work in a department where the norm is high stress and curve balls. I gravitate toward anything with rhyme and reason. I thrive on routine. But there’s no black and white in this place, only gray.
But maybe the biggest issue is a feeling of isolation. I’m the remote employee. This is a first for me, and for the department. They’re not used to accommodating someone who isn’t physically there and we are still working through some of those hurdles. And I underestimated how much I being around people fuels me. I mean, I have people around me in my office. They’re just not my people. I can go entire days in my little corner of the office, buried in my own work, and not have a single in-person interaction. Too many days like that leave me feeling suffocated and drained.
LinkedIn suggested a job opportunity for me the other day, one that suited my skills and personality very well. I seriously contemplated it. And then I realized that it might not be so much that the job really appealed to me as I was looking for an out. And when I really thought about it, I actually like the work I’m doing. There’s just so much of it. It’s hard to ever get really focused on any one thing before something else is banging at my door. And I let myself get frantic in my head about failing to conquer it all when the reality is that no one else expects me to. It hasn’t even been a whole year, and I need to give myself time to reach a better place where I’m at.
On the plus side, I’ve got opportunities to help me disentangle from it all. After my bowling season ended last April, I started right up again in a summer league. And I allowed myself to be talked into a golf league as well! For someone who’s a homebody at heart, it’s a lot to have two regular commitments every week! On a side note … GOLF! I always thought it was a boring game, but I kind of love it. Overall, I’m really bad at it, but when you break it down, there are things I’m doing really well. So maybe someday I’ll start putting it all together and actually play decently. Anyway, this is just a fun league and none of my team mates are too serious about it, so I’m really enjoying it.
Also, we’re making time to be at the family cabin this summer. For years, we’ve been lucky to manage one weekend out of the summer there, but this summer we’ve gone three times already. This was my father-in-law’s happy place and he left it for his kids and grandchildren. It’s an old, rustic place. It’s small, and the entire kitchen sags just a bit lower than the rest of the place. But we love it. There are almost always other members of the extended family there, and I love the communal meals, fishing off the dock together, and the gorgeous sunsets that sink down over the lake at the end of a day. And after dark, there’s always bonfires and s’mores. I love the way that when I’m there, I can lose myself in a book for hours on end without guilt that I should be doing something else.
Where was I going with all this? I think I just needed a reminder of how blessed I am. The other day it occurred to me that I’d been waking up each summer day feeling weighed down by something that feels like the winter blues. This time of year is usually my happy place, but I haven’t been feeling it like I normally do. When I really stopped to think about it, I realized that I’ve been so busy … working … playing … keeping up with responsibilities both at work and at home. There was no space left inside to stop for a moment and reflect, slow down, and appreciate anything. This is just me putting myself in check. I’ll try to make this a more frequent habit.