Calibrate the forces in your life


Calibration (Photo credit: Kyle McDonald)

I’ve taken this week off, mostly at least. Besides a couple half-days, I’m living the non-income life, otherwise known as “vacation.” In any sort of self-employment, that’s what vacation is – a carefully calibrated force with another opposing, calibrated to keep me from mutating. All for the price of income.

It was getting close there, and just in time, after the significance of making wrong change and missing signatures finally broke through, I found myself here. Vacation. #gratitude.

But what does one do, “relaxing?”

Yesterday, someone asked what Adam and Eve did before the fall. I loved that question. What did they do all day? Reminded me about my thought-thumbing through what a heaven or eternity would be like. Where’s the delicious tension from living this way, dynamic and traveling persons? I’m very interested to know what will keep my attention for eternity.

Anyhow, vacation is like what one patient described as counting the days, either with anxiety or happy anticipation, of when you will be going back to work. I would say that it’s an exercise in calibrating the forces in ones life, before she mutates.

I remember as a little girl, with tangled hair in my eyes and muddied toes, hearing, “At the end of someone’s life, no one ever says they wished they worked more.” It scared me. I sensed the intent behind these words to threaten whoever was out there working and not spending time with their family. I was scared for them and at the same time for myself. This has replayed many times in my mind since then, in shifting sounds and shapes as my thoughts took on the years and experience of what family time offers/takes verses work time. And then finally one day, I said to my sister, “When I’m in the dying stage, I don’t think I will agree with that. I can’t imagine ever not wanting to work more.”

When one gets to do something as fun as work in psychiatry, with heroes and see magic and watch what all that does to their own person in a process no less than what a dreamers canvas would display – they don’t ask for less. They will always want more, and so will I. This is not a qualifying statement of how much of my family I want in my life at all. One of the major problems with the original scare is that it is based on assuming either-or, either work or family. That’s ignorant, same as my fear.

So tonight, after a pajama day cleaning out the toy room, kids and movie time, my flow was interrupted by thoughts of patients’ narratives and personalities, and I missed them. Vacation, against that, makes for a pretty relaxing time. #gratitude.

Self-Care Tip – Calibrate the forces in your life. Be a friend to yourself.

Questions: How do you relax? Do you enjoy your work? What will you still want more of when you are in the dying process? Please tell us your story.

12 thoughts on “Calibrate the forces in your life

  1. Relaxing is not my natural state… But when I know I need to, I like to read or watch something amusing and mindless (this is if I am tired, to boot), or I like to go off and have an adventure or try/learn something totally new. Sometimes, I find there are forms of productivity that also feel relaxing at the same time (crafting with my hands, gardening, cooking, studying). Most of the time, it is slowing myself down enough to relax that takes the most effort, and it is work (any kind, as long I am producing something) that feels the most rewarding and fun.

    I think the work/not-work-more dichotomy has a fallacious premise. Perhaps the statement was trying to say something about spending more or less time with other people; I think there is an assumption that all work must be done in solitude, and when we’re dying, we wish for more time with loved ones. We know that in actuality, however, most work is NOT done in solitude, and we often don’t find ourselves needing to make that choice. We can love the people for and with whom we work, just as we can love our family and friends—all of whom also involve work of a sort, sometimes hard work. We can work AND spend time with those we love. In fact, real love takes work.

    Even the best vacations take work in order to set them up properly. (Type A, anyone?) We have to have our affairs in order before we step out of the classroom, office, or home. We need to have some idea of an itinerary (no, as much as I dabble in it, I will never be truly a spontaneous person). We have to negotiate travel. Work. But fun, too. Work and fun often go hand-in-hand in my book.

    As for when I die, I think what I will wish for more of is more exotic and remote travel and adventure, to have seen even more of the world than I have.

  2. Are we talking vacation or retirement here? Vacation, for me and my family, meant getting away from our “normal” lives and enjoying each other and nature. We camped a lot! And, yes, as a teacher, cleaning up the playroom and re-arranging linen closets came in there, too. We loved vacations but we both looked forward to getting back to work, too.

    Now that we’re retired, it’s another thing entirely. We both miss what we did when we were working but we both love the fact that we are not tied to the responsibility of every day on the job. We’ve made it work because we have taken what we did when we worked into our retirement and re-directed it toward what and who we deal with now. My husband takes his skills as a scientist and turns them toward model building and keeping up with constant repairs at our (or our children’s) houses. His patience and curiosity as a scientist make him perfect for doing things that others might throw up their hands and give up on. I take my teaching and art skills and put them toward volunteering with children and doing artwork on my own or with the children with whom I volunteer. And both of us take the inter-personal skills we learned through years of “working” and turn them toward those needed to keep ourselves involved in our retirement years. And, most important for us, being with nature, whether it be on our porch watching the birds or spending the day in the desert or traveling around the country drinking in the magnimity of God’s creation, is what fills our hearts, soars our spirits and completes what’s left of our lives.

    I don’t think you ever stop missing the work you do in your career years but, for us at least, missing what we have now in retirement would be much worse than continuing to “work” because that was who we were and all we thought we wanted to be.

  3. I can’t really relax unless I’m doing things. Not that I want to work, but I like being productive. If I finish my comics, and I don’t have anymore to work on, it’ll drive me crazy. Sometimes I like to just sit and relax, but relaxing for me more is doing things I enjoy. I could never just lay on the beach or anything. The whole time, I would think about how this time could be better spent writing a blog post or drawing a picture.
    I, too, wonder what I’ll do in heaven for eternity. Not that I doubt heaven’s great and all, but what will I do?

    • lol. i can totally relate. i was relieved thinking about a place w no beginning and no end when i realized that i will still b taking care of Me 1st, that i am created to pleasure and a place w/o pain involving those conditions couldn’t b anything but amazing. 🙂 i seriously remember feeling a load come off. tee hee.

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