Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Work/Life Balance

I heard the phrase work life balance last fall, in a moment I didn't process. The words collided with the back of my skull and remained there, stalking me for weeks. I've always been someone who tends toward busy, but in recent times, busy has tended me.

Friends and family have asked if I even like them anymore, with sincerity -  and hurt - which reminds me of how much I have to lose if I don't find my balance. I was thrilled to have my sister friends over to the condo for the first time earlier this month but also mortified for them to see how I've been living.

When Tabitha and Quinn arrived first, they looked worried. The question was posed, "How long have you been living here again?" Bindy arrived with her usual three kids in tow, expecting to celebrate her 40th birthday with Tabitha; she only had to be asked once before she hopped up and pitched in. Amy unpacked and did my laundry like a madwoman, stuffing damp clothes I was drip drying into my closet and sending everything else to the dryer, in her no-nonsense, probably-doesn't-do-her-own-laundry way. I need to lose weight anyway.

Amy was on fire. She unpacked boxes in my bedroom, putting away my personal products - glad she got a good look at my personal needs. Amy even unpacked a Christmas present I was supposed to pass on to my ex, opening the card and ripping the gift card off the backing. The girl was thorough. Bindy vacuumed. Corina cleaned the kitchen. Tabitha and Quinn assembled furniture for hours. I love the feeling of women taking care of business. Especially my business.

That's not entirely true; I like my space to be a certain way - relaxing, organized, clean, ready for guests. But it hasn't been any of those things for months now. I heard the word hoarding being passed around during our girls weekend, but they don't understand how much I've had to ignore everything for work and kids. I moved and got stuff for the new place until my place became a maze of boxes; Violet even moved into one of the larger empty boxes for a few days, posting a sign to keep her older sister out.

I've learned so much at work and by adjusting to living on my own. Now, it seems the lesson is to discern what matters in the chaos of a busy life. Catching up with friends, spending time with family, and being there for my kids all matter. But first, I've got to grab the oxygen mask for myself. I love a challenging job and need one beyond my mothering responsibilities - this I know for sure after being home with the kids during my unemployed years. Yet, working to the point of sacrificing my health isn't an option.

My ultimate goal is to get off at least some of the anxiety/high blood pressure meds. They make me tired and physically weak, and when I get sick, it takes me a long time to be well. My blood pressure acted up recently to the point that my goal was to not be hospitalized. That is not a good goal but one I will continue to face if I don't take care of myself.

I owe my friends for the jump start this month toward a more balanced life. If anything, the fear of having to face them again with my disorganized home is motivating. They're not known for their soft pedaling.