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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stopping to Smell the Roses

So far I have had three weeks as a “bum” – meaning three weeks of not going in to work. Although “bum” would hardly be the word I would use to describe my schedule. These days I am still as busy as ever but the main difference is I am busy but not stressed. It’s a wonderful feeling and I am so truly blessed to have this time to relax, recuperate and rejuvenate myself.

I got a call the other day from a friend asking me if I missed work and how was I managing days where I have nothing planned. Obviously this is a friend who knows me well and understands my need to keep myself occupied. I thought about it carefully and can honestly say I miss my colleagues at work but none of the day-to-day deadlines and projects. As for keeping myself occupied, well …

How do I spend my days? For starters, Jojo and I start our day around 8:00. While my hubby showers and gets ready for work, I make breakfast. Yes, believe it or not, I actually make breakfast now. Gone are the days of grabbing a granola bar while heading out the door. Jojo leaves a little after 9:00, which is around the time when I am joined by my sister as I enjoy a second cup of green tea. I browse my mail, check out the blogs I frequent, watch some morning talkshows, and pitter-patter around the house. By 10:30, I leave for the gym (I meet with a trainer twice a week, the other days I work out on my own. I am home by noon and usually my sister and I have lunch together or once in a while I meet up with friends who can grab an hour off from work.

My afternoons alternate between trips to the grocery, shopping for pasalubong, gifts, and even prizes (I hosted the mooncake festival games this year), and running errands. Occasionally we spend the afternoon at Barnes and Noble or Borders where I browse management books (I am preparing to give a half-day seminar for the managers at my dad’s company in December). I schedule doctor, dentist and hairdresser appointments too. Sometimes I visit my nieces and nephews as they get off from school and I bring them ice cream. And of course there are some afternoons we have to meet with my sister’s wedding vendors as well. But whatever I have planned, I am usually home by 6:00 and my sister and I start making dinner. Jojo gets home by 7:30 and has commented that this set-up is great since he has nice home-cooked meals every night! After dinner, we watch tv (depending on what’s on), am on the phone, or I settle down to reading a good book. We watch the news at 11 and are in bed by 11:30. It is an awesome schedule!

I am so glad to have the time to catch up on my reading too. I’ve read a few good books so far. Thrity Umrigar’s “The Space Between Us” (which tells the tale of India’s caste system and how that affects women in that country); Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” (which is a hilarious and witty look at the restaurant industry and haute cuisine); Barry Schwartz’s “The Paradox of Choice” (which presents an interesting discussion on how the abundance of choice in society today actually robs us of actual fulfillment); “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch (life’s lessons by the Carnegie Mellon professor who recently passed away from cancer); and am now in the middle of reading “Kabul Beauty School” by Debbie Rodriguez (which chronicles her journey into Afghanistan to build a beauty school to empower oppressed women in that region). All these books have been really great and I am loving the fact that I can savor my reading instead of hurriedly flipping through a few chapters before bed every night.

It’s been great spending time with my sister, Jenny too. We have always been close and despite the 7 years we lived apart, we have naturally bonded once again and are enjoying our time together before her wedding in a couple of weeks. All we’re missing is my mom and Joy and we could have our own “all girl staycation”.

As I wrote earlier, this time I now have is truly a blessing. I am lucky to have a good hubby willing to support me as I do this and am glad I worked my butt off the last couple of years so my savings makes me feel as if I’m still contributing to our household income (although I am undoubtably now spending far more than my share!). Of course we are making some adjustments and tightening our belts somewhat since I am going to be off work for 4 months and Jojo is just starting a new job. But overall, this time off has taught me the value of taking time off for myself and my family and friends. Finding the time to relax and de-stress. We all live in such a high-pressure society and the corporate world can become draining (if we let it). It’s so important to sit back and once in a while just take some time to re-think our priorities and re-focus on what it is we value and want in life. I don’t mean anything existential or grandiose (like quitting your job and going to live in a remote village somewhere or taking a year-long vacation when there are bills to pay) – although that does sound appealing too. But to each his own. You need to find out what works for you and get to your happy place. Sometimes all we need is a little breather and a reminder to stop and smell the roses. We owe that to ourselves.


jol said...

Am so happy that you are having a great time out of the asphalt jungle. I thought it was inconceivable for you to enjoy life without office work and job deadlines. But you are doing great so I hope you do not forget this kind of lifestyle when you get another tempting offer from any company.

jeff said...

all i can say is... i really envy you! enjoy it while it lasts.

Anonymous said...