This past week, my life/work balance has been out of whack (in the favor of more life, less work, so I’m not complaining). I have found that routine is important to many people (myself included), and before last week, I had a great routine set: teach in the morning, research in the afternoon, and I even would find time to fit in a quick 20 minute nap on most days (the benefits from working at home). Usually, my “life” or “non-work” activities that I considered in the balance related to one of the following things: 1) cooking or baking 2) some sort of athletic activity (running/climbing/dance class) or 3) relaxing (usually involving either TV, a book, tea or some wine).
Last week, however, about 150 of my friends and family came to visit for a full week of pre/during/post-wedding activities and it was great, but not much work was done. For the first time in a long while my “life” activities involved actually “living” and “doing” which I realized contrasted with my usual “life” activities of reading a book by the fire. I didn’t watch any TV or read any books, nor did I cook or bake a single item (running also was sidelined for the week, but I did fit in a few hikes in the mountains). Instead, I was catching up with loved ones whom I haven’t seen in ages, and trying to help make connections between different groups of friends. I am social by nature, but the sheer amount of socialization that I experienced over the past week has been staggering (and wonderful…don’t get me wrong).
It’s a strange sensation to see so many different people from different parts of my life in one place, at one time (not to mention the equal amount of people representing Peter’s side). Even today, now that everyone has gone home, I walk around campus still thinking I see my friend who lives in Virginia walking in front of me, or my aunt and uncle in the car next to me at a traffic light. I became so accustomed to seeing the friendly and familiar faces, that now that they all went home, some part of my brain still expects to see them.
Entertaining so many guests is never an easy task, and I found myself during the week questioning how social of a person I really am. I realized that despite the fact that I enjoy being around people and prefer not to be alone even during the most mundane of tasks (a habit I blame on being the youngest, and hence, always around other people) my usual routine grants me many hours a day of alone time where I can sit, work, and make some tea to the beat of my own schedule. Usually, after so many hours of working at home alone, I look forward to when my roommates come home, and always had focused on that part of the day. However, I never really valued the alone time that occurs before-hand.
Last week, with my schedule turned upside-down, and so many visitors, I missed my routine. And yet, the opportunity to see and hang out with so many people who live so far away way is one I would never trade. Today, back to my routine, I am experiencing a bit of withdrawal. I miss all the people and “living” that took place last week and I keep going through pictures to live vicariously through the memories (if one can live vicariously through one’s own life). To say the “grass is always greener” would be a recognizably trite, but true sentiment. However, I’m sure in a few days, I will, to keep using stock phrases, “get back in the swing of things”. My sister often remarks how important keeping a routine is to her 8 month old, and I guess that’s something of which we never grow out.
What did I learn this past week (besides that I have excellent friends and family members)? That I should appreciate alone time, even if it’s just a few minutes to gather my thoughts before the next activity.
To share (a few wedding pics courtesy of Jennifer Williams Photography):