Friday, January 28, 2011

Reflections As Of Late

Last night we had our first "post holiday" knitting club. I am already feeling out of touch with everyone and needed my girlfriend fix so out came the knitting needles and the wine. The four hours we spent together went by in a flash and I was disappointed it had to end. I haven't laughed that hard and so much in awhile. I think it is easy to hibernate in the winter, especially when trying to balance work, family, and friends but last night was a clear indication that I need to build in more frequent girlfriend time. If you haven't had your fix lately, call your friends now! Nothing better than an impromptu get together.

I am trying to be good about my house being in constant disarray again. At the beginning of the week I start in a patient voice with "Help me understand why the couch pillows are all over the house and there are socks in the kitchen sink?" By Tuesday my voice is strained as I ask "Does anyone remember the talk we had yesterday about respecting our house?" This is followed by a high pitched shrill tone on Wednesday threatening "Don't let me come home tomorrow to find your lunch box in the bathroom!". By Thursday I have had it and I snap. The kids look at me as though I have lost my mind and they have no idea what I am ranting about. By Friday I just walk in the door and pour a glass of wine with my coat still on. At what point will the children actually listen? At what point will they recall that we have had the same conversations for over 10 years? Please tell me it is right around the corner...

Most of the people I work with live in/near Boston. Most of them have not heard of the town I live in, as though I am from Siberia. After listening to them talk about all the different, fun restaurants and places they take advantage of in Boston, I have come to the conclusion that I need to get out of town more. Tim and I stayed in Boston last weekend - we met some of his old college roommates/wives/girlfriends for dinner and drinks. We decided to be responsible drivers and stay in town...Taxi! I agonized over what to wear...what do people wear to fun restaurants? Turns out they wear the same things I wear every day...with the exception of one bar that we went to. I'm pretty sure some of the ladies forgot their pants and were just wearing long shirts with very high boots. But for the most part, I didn't feel too out of place. However, I did feel like we aren't taking advantage of great places right in our backyard....restaurants, museums, etc. So, we decided to spend a weekend there over Feb vacation to check out new places with the kids. If you are feeling like a Country Mouse, try becoming a City Mouse once in awhile.

When I went back to work I was really worried I was going to revert to Old Kelly but I am finding that I am just New Kelly. I am completely energized by the work I am doing, I really like the company and appreciate the culture, and the adjustment hasn't been too bad actually. There have been some busy times and some early mornings/later nights but all in all I have been able to manage it without stressing out and feeling like I am neglecting any one area of my life. Again, I'm only about a month in but what I'm trying to say is that with a little perspective on what is important in your life, you actually can slow things down and achieve balance. If I can do it, you can do it too - believe me!

Finally, are you watching the American Idol tryouts? The kids really get a kick out of it so we have been watching it together. I can't stop crying when I watch it. I cry when people beg to be let through to Hollywood. I cry when the people who are going to Hollywood come out with their golden ticket, I cry when the parents of those people cry, and I cry at all the sad sappy stories they showcase. I almost couldn't control myself the other night when they showcased a story about a young guy who was 2 months away from getting married when his fiance was in a terrible accident and is now suffering from a traumatic brain injury. They brought her in to meet Randy, J Lo, and Steven Tyler. Holy box of tissues....let it end!

Sorry I haven't updated much lately...still trying to figure out a routine that works. I'll get back into the swing of things soon!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Three Day Old Work Kelly

Well, it's been three days since I re-entered the working world and so far so good. Here is a wrap up of how it has gone so far:

Pre-Day One - Sunday Night:
I went to bed with a stomach ache....worried that after not working for 7 months I had contracted a case of the "stupids" and would just blubber when asked intelligent questions. I curled up in the fetal position around 9 pm...about 3 hours before my normal bedtime...and tried to make peace with it all. "It won't be that bad...it won't be that bad..."

Day One:
Woke up with the same stomach ache. Today I was worried I would forget to put on make up. After not wearing it very often, and getting pretty comfortable with the naked face, I had images of showing up at work and people whispering "Jesus, I don't remember her looking like THAT?" While muttering to myself, "don't forget your make up...don't forget your make up.." I picked out a "cool" outfit. At my new workplace everyone wears jeans and "hip" clothes. They are artists. They wear skinny jeans and converse sneakers with plaid shirts and they all have zooshed hair. After ransacking my closet for something that would let me into the cool kids club for the day, I put on my make up, and hustled downstairs. I had a train to catch. But not before Timmy gave me a little present. He told me to put my hand out, close my eyes, and then he said "In case you need to find your happy place today, just rub this" and he dropped a piece of green sea glass in my palm. That Timmy...he's a keeper. After a kiss and a hug I was off to be Kommuter Kelly Bound For the Big City!

At lunch time, we all went out together to Chinatown, which is right around the corner from the office. Holy Chicken Feet! This place was like a fast food chinese place. After you are seated, ladies with carts just start yelling food names at you...which, to be honest, were a bit hard to understand. If you nodded your head even slightly they threw it on the table until you said "no more". Then, because food was flying so quickly, we began to eat like prison inmates. It was all over in 10 minutes flat. For lunch I ate 2 cotton balls that had "pork" in them, a rubber pouch with neon green "vegetables", and a seaweed wrapped pouchlette of "chicken" and rice. I'm pretty sure it was all squirrel and cat. At one point I thought I heard "chicken wings" and got a little giddy only to turn and see fried chicken feet...literally, fried chicken feet.

The day at work was great....such a fun environment. Because there are no offices or cubes everyone sits in one large room either at rolling tables or couches. There is a lot of talking, laughter, coffee runs, and poking of fun. They play music all day and you leave there feeling very relaxed. I ended day one with a chinese food fueled stomach ache but I was excited to go back for Day 2.

Day 2:
I awoke with the realization that my house was beginning to look a bit messy...it didn't take long. But I wasn't stressed over it...instead I was stressed about having to leave earlier. As soon as the kids left for school I had 45 minutes to get out the door. AAAAHHH!! Don't forget the make up, find a cool outfit, get out the door.... and I made it. I did have to run for the train but I made it. Turns out no one comes in "early" and I was the second one there at 9:00 am. This place is going to be alright. I spent the day in the "tree house" which is a little conference space that you access by climbing a treehouse ladder. There are two comfy chairs, a table, and a big window that overlooks the alley and all sorts of goings on that can distract even the non ADD types. Another great day learning about the company and just soaking it all in.

On day one I realized the bags I was using weren't working. I had a purse and a work bag that was packed with actitivities for the train, as though I were going to be entertaining my kids on a trip. Two books, a magazine, my knitting, my agenda, my list notebook, tissues, sunglasses, lip gloss, the list goes on and on. Bottom line, I had so much stuff in there I couldn't fit the computer they gave me so I hard to carry it..along with the two other bags all the way home. I looked so uncool on the train. So, on day 2 I was sporting my purse and my pink and green frog bag. I looked cute but it felt like I was carrying a bag of rocks. When I got home I then switched to my third approach. I ditched the purse and just took out my wallet. I got one of my computer bags, which is not cute at all, but functional, and stuffed my computer, one book, my phone, and my thin wallet into it. Out came the magazines, extra books, and knitting. I added my Vera lunch box to the mix.

Day 3:
Managed to keep the same schedule and not have to run for the train. I now back my car in at the commuter lot like everyone else for the quickest possible get away at the end of the day. I only had one bag, plus my cute lunch bag, and I was feeling like I knew what I was doing. I participated in a creative session today and found I didn't have the stupids afterall. My old boss came by for a meeting with the owner of the company and seeing him was like running into your old boyfriend, while you were hand in hand with your new boyfriend. We had an awkward hug and then he said "Well, you certainly look happy here...I wish you the best of luck..." That's right...I am happy here because I work with fun people who recognize the importance of work/life balance. I can wear jeans everyday. I listen to music and I leave relaxed not stressed out. Better yet, I wish YOU luck, my friend!

I know it is just week one but I really feel that this is the right place for me. I am home at 6 each night, the family has adjusted well, and I really like what I am doing. I'm excited to go back each day, even though I am very tired, and now my back hurts because of my heavy computer bag. I feel like I need to add a bag to carry my lunch box in...and my knitting...I just don't have that down yet...but tomorrow I will try a new combo and see how that works. Again, this is week one...but so far so good!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Reflecting on My Sabbatical

Well, not only is it a new year but it also marks the end of Little Kelly's Life of Leisure. Tomorrow I am starting a new job. Insert sigh here.

I've had a good run and have thoroughly enjoyed myself over the last 7 months but it is time to get back to work and bring home the bacon. I am excited about the opportunity I selected and although it is in Boston, I will have some flexibility to maintain a healthy work life balance, which was my number one priority when finding a new job. And a part of me is looking forward to the train ride because I will have two hours each day to read, knit, catch up on work, or just transition from Work Kelly to Home Kelly.

I took a look at my sabbatical list and discovered that I had done a fair amount of things on the list. I put all my pictures in photo albums, I did some cleaning, I organized quite a bit, I spent more time with my girlfriends, I took up watercolor painting, I read more, I definitely relaxed, I camped alot, and I lived more in the moment.

I didn't clean or organize as much as I initially wanted but I also discovered that I thought having a clean and organized house would solve my feelings of being "out of control". I realized I just needed to shift my priorities and do the things I was missing and wanted to do first, and clean and organize second. I did not get that job at a socially conscious company doing meaningful work. However, I am working at a great, fun, company who has made a commitment to a social mission to dramatically improve the education of future generations. I am very happy to be involved in and a part of that goal. Overall there is nothing I didn't get to that I am beating myself up over. What I gained instead, is immeasurable and invaluable. So, as I embark on my next chapter, I thought I would take a look back at my "sabbatical" and put a top 10 list together of things I learned...so here we go!

10. Take time for yourself. Yeah, I know...you don't have any time to do anything for yourself because you are so busy keeping everyone happy and organized. That's pure crap. If you don't take time for yourself, no one is going to be happy. Not you, your family, or your friends. Start small and set aside just one hour a week to take a walk, do something crafty, take a yoga class...whatever it is that you want to do go out and do it! And in order to do that, yes, you will need to delegate some things to others so your family "machine" can keep humming. You don't have to do everything yourself and you certainly don't need to sacrifice your sanity because the laundry is stacked too high.

9. Having a pristine house does not mean you are a better person. You do not need to spend endless hours polishing your furniture so they pass the white glove test. You don't need to vacuum every day. You don't need to scrub the crevices between your cabinets with a toothbrush. Stop the madness!! Now, I'm not saying your house should look like a hoarder's paradise or you should leave sticky food all over your counters, but no one will die if you let your house look lived in. Make your family more responsible and accountable for keeping the house clean. Guess what? If you are constantly picking up after everyone and doing all the work, you can't complain that you feel like a maid....you have let yourself become a maid and no one is to blame for that but yourself. All that time you are constantly spending cleaning is taking away from enjoying your life. Let the floors go and grab your bikes and take a family bike ride. Or go out and have a snowball fight. The cleaning will always be there...make your family the priority, not your vacuum.

8. Stop saying "In a minute..." to your kids. How many times do your kids ask you to do something with them and you say "In a minute...". And that minute never comes. Unless your hair is on fire, put down what you are doing and play that game or have that conversation. Be present for your kids. As a result of doing this in the last several months, I have had some of the best conversations with my kids. They open up more when you are willing to take the time. We have had a lot of laughs too. I am going to try very hard to remember this one when I come back from commuting to Boston and am trying to get dinner on the table, homework wrapped up, and prepare for the next day. I know this will be hard and a conscious effort but I am going to really try to remember my own advice here.

7. Make a realistic daily to do list. I think we overwhelm ourselves with our lists and put 20 things on there that need to get done each day when you really only can get 5 things done. It's self defeating to create a list that is unrealistic. Give yourself a break and prioritize what is really important.

6. Take time with your girlfriends. Only girls understand other girls and you need that support in your life. I had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my girlfriends. I drank wine and tea. I went for walks and took up knitting. We took girls only trips. We laughed, cried, and supported each other. We talked through email, phone, and in person. We read books and saw movies together. We had a lot of fun and there is a lot more fun to be had!

5. Find out what makes you happy and then look for opportunities to do that more often. I love to travel and camp and we made that a priority last year. Although we won't be able to camp as much this year because I am working again, we will still look for any and all opportunities to take off and enjoy ourselves. We have one trip planned already....to Tybee Island in Georgia! Make sure you know what makes you relaxed and happy and seek opportunities to do it more often, whether that is by yourself, with your girlfriends, or your family.

4. Choose to view the world with a glass half full. What is being negative getting you? You only throw up roadblocks for yourself when you view things from a pessimistic point of view. Be positive and happy things will follow. Stop saying things like "I will never be able to do that..." or "it probably won't work out..." or "with my luck the worst will happen". Start saying things like "I'll give it a try.." or "Maybe something great will come out of this". Daily life is full of obstacles and challenges. Get on your own team and start being more positive.

3. Have fun! I realized just how much I was letting fun pass me by because I was too busy cleaning, or trying to organize all the little details, or working. Go out with your friends for dinner on the spur of the moment, go sledding with the kids, say yes when friends call for a girl's night out on a Wednesday night. Now, sometimes you just can't fit it all in, but try to fit something fun in at least once a week. Make fun a priority because your life will be more joyful.

2. Make your life a good one. As I said before, you only get one life....enjoy it to the fullest. I think you get the point of this through my comments above. Have Fun. Enjoy Life. Take advantage of life's opportunities. Smile. Laugh. When you reflect back on the last year are you thoughts filled with "I should have..." or "I wish I had..." If so, then don't do that again this year. Life life to the fullest.

1. I think the most important thing I have learned, is a no brainer, but one of those things that I think most people struggle with. No job is worth putting before your family. Don't live to work. Instead work to live. Yes, I know...we all need that paycheck and it often feels like if you don't send those emails tonight, or if you don't get that presentation done tonight, or if you don't respond to requests over the weekend, that your job will be in jeopardy. "Especially in this economy." It's simply not true. Just put down the blackberry and step away. Get home at a reasonable time at least 3 nights a week. Have fun with your kids before they go to bed so they have a great, positive memory before falling asleep. Go to the movies with your family rather than worrying about work. You have the power to say "I can't do that right now but I can get it done..." or "I'm not available this weekend but can definitely address that when I get in on Monday". You have options. Just try making yourself and your family a priority and you will realize that you can actually make your family a priority and still keep your job. And if not, then maybe you aren't working at the right place for you.

Leaving my stable job after 14 years was the scariest thing I ever did...and the best thing I ever did. I realized I am the one with the power to control my life, not the company I work for. I realized I was putting everything about myself and my family's happiness, not my company. I realized I can take chances and the world won't come to a crashing halt.

I have never felt so much more like myself than I do right now. I honestly feel like I grew into my skin and am feeling very comfortable. I also recognize that not many people have the opportunity to take time off and rediscover themselves "full time". But we all have the opportunity to slow ourselves down and enjoy life. I am hoping that I don't look back at this post in 3 months and say "What happened to Little Kelly?! Where did she go again?" I don't think that will happen though because I am more in tune with what I need to do in order to maintain this lifestyle change. So, let's see how this goes....onto the next chapter of Little Kelly.