Rule #38 – Seek balance
Ok, World. How does everything get done?
I am facing a major dilemma right around now. I am a writer and know I have to work at my manuscripts and research. I am also a gardener and Ma Nature has been gracious to give us an early spring/summer to get clean up done. I am an active community member and we have some spring events that need planning and my participation. Last time I checked there are only 24 hours in a day. And in that time frame, I do need to sleep when I can, in spite of the fact that I have a dog at the other end of the life spectrum and he needs to go out in the middle of the night.
When I worked as a public school teacher, the same thing happened. I’d always have piles of papers to grade. Well, my school system saw to it that I saw 360 kids every 3 days in a course that is an active, practical, and hands on course to teach. With 360 projects, usually coming in around the same time – and most of them at the last minute of the grading period (accepted only because I was ordered to by Central Command), there were certain things that ended up sliding. Housework for one – I refused to get a maid to clean my house. There are a number of reasons for that. One, I’m healthy and really can do it myself. Two, my husband’s former employment makes having illegal entrants into our country working for you a major issue (housecleaning seem to be the industry that draws such workers in our state). Three, my husband retired, is healthy enough for housework, and finally found some items he was willing to do, despite the fact he was taught that women actually enjoy cleaning, cooking and shopping. (Bite my tongue on the last one) So, there’s no real reason for a maid service. I did learn two things, however: I am stubborn, and my husband and I have diametrically opposing views of dirt. I was also chronically sleep deprived. (Ok, three things)
Since I stopped teaching, not much has changed, including the views on dirt and how to remove it. I’m not a real control freak – meaning I don’t have to be in charge all the time. I’ve worked with enough middle school kids to be grateful for a small crumb of true effort toward a task. But I know, if you want to keep allergens and tiny livestock at bay, you have to clean more and below the seen-surface. We are still working on this one. (Retirement makes life interesting, doesn’t it?)
Enter the scene now, my passions. I really enjoy the writing process. I’ve got several manuscripts in various stages of completion. One of them, “Esther Bunny”, requires me to get into a rabbit’s head. I haven’t had time to allow myself to do that lately. The same with another planned blog “Dear Boss”. There I have to work from the view of a much beloved office coffee mug. This takes psyche time, which I don’t seem to be able to snatch right now. I also need to pitch my “Hi, Doggie” picture book to publishers. I find myself writing in snatched moments, and wondering if I’m doing the work the justice it deserves. Most days it doesn’t feel like it.
My other passion is gardening. I love the physical activity of working in the yard. I love the feel of the dirt on my hands. I love the muscle ache of a job well done. It’s an activity that helped me keep my sanity as a teacher, and now keeps me in touch with reality. There is a time to every purpose in the season, and my gardens do force me to follow the seasonal time tables. There are some things I can let go of, like some pruning and trimming. But others…not so much. Ma Nature is a demanding boss and she’s the type of boss who requires you to read her mind and guess what the weather will be. Not much different from my life as a teacher, come to think. (You’d think I’d be used to this by now)
Plus, there’s my precious pooch. He’s now 18 years old and in the running for longest living patient at our vet’s. He is truly a geriatric hound needing round the clock supervision. My husband and I are able to sneak out now and then. But we don’t stay out long, in case his “tank” overflows before we can get him outside. He gets care and comfort right now, like hospice. And he seems to be thriving on all the attention.
Add to the mix my church activities, my garden club activities, getting ready for our annual plant sale, trying to get 3 workouts a week in at the gym (something that suffered when I was teaching), keeping in touch with friends…
Oh, and then there’s sleep.
I remember an exercise I had my 8th grade kids do as a job training lesson. They had to take a graph, figure out what they had to do in a week, assign a time budget to it, and graph the results. This included how many hours a week at work, and the commute time too. Most kids forgot to graph in sleep time. Many American workers do the same.
I am still my students – overscheduled and sleep deprived!
I guess the way to find some balance – or homeostasis (the kids loved that word when I used it in the classroom) – is to reorganize my priorities. Here comes those lists again – the gotta dos, shoulda dones, and would dos if there is times. Wait, organizing the life takes time. And it relies on no sudden interruptions or changes in the cosmic convergence of the planets. Around here? At this time of year? And not to lose the lists?
Guess I’ll still have to be the Rubber Band Woman – flexible to what ever happens.
Is balance such an unattainable goal? Probably not, but its achievement is fleeting. There’s always going to be someone who wants something yesterday, and I, the flexible caretaker, will stretch to oblige.
And trying not to get sick while holding on tight and riding the swift pendulum of life…
Can I get an “Oy, Vey”?