Work. Work. Work. Deadlines, schedules, meetings, appointments, paperwork, technology, meetings, expectations, bosses. Oh, and did I mention, meetings? Our days seem to begin with a “get up and go” alarm and end with a “got up and went” exhaustion. Followed, of course, by preparation to do it all over again the next day.
My fellow Downton Abbey fans will remember, Violet Crawley (The Dowager Countess of Grantham). She is my favorite character on the TV show, and of all her famous lines, my most favorite, especially for those of us who are not rich aristocrats or owners of big castles who have never had to work a day in their life, is “what’s a weekend?” Loverboy would be disappointed with that comment, since his song “Working for the Weekend” is the reminder that we need a break from work, and it is called a weekend.
But do we? Do we take a break? Ever? Weekends, evenings, vacations? We never seem to stop. Yard work, painting, shopping, cleaning, laundry, personal appointments, and of course, recorded TV shows, Facebook, social gatherings, schoolwork, projects, and our growing list of to-dos and the apps to manage them all. Our lives are full: full of many good things, but full. Maybe too full, but what are we to do?
My retired neighbors invite me to events and see me as unsociable at times because I do not attend. My retired siblings call and when I don’t call right back, they think something is wrong, that I am mad at them, or that I am dead! I often let down the precious volunteer organizations I love and serve because I am not able to participate in everything. I don’t have the free time, but I do have a job, a wonderful job with meaning, rewards, and a paycheck that I appreciate very much.
Working 40+ hours a week, 8+ hours a day, 52 weeks a year. Work is a big part of our lives and it is not easy, or they wouldn’t call it work! We can’t do any of the things we love to do without working for them. Work is a necessary part of the finish line known as a paycheck. We may not love the work we do, but we love what we can do with all that the work affords us (pun intended).
It is a beautiful thing when a passion and a career come together as it did for me back in 2015, but that was at age 57. I have worked jobs all of my life, since my first “official” paying job at Poor Phil’s Dairy Bar in Leo, Indiana. It was a cold and tough gig, but that $47 dollar check with my name on it was worth every one of the 20 after school hours I put in at age 14. Yes, that was $2.35 an hour (and free ice cream, whether Phil knew it or not). It was owned by my best friend’s dad, so the interview was a breeze, and the boss’s family provided transportation!
A lot has changed for us since then, but our lives are more like the White Rabbit in Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland. “Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I shall be too late! Oh, my fur and whiskers! I’m late, I’m late, I’m late. I’m late, I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say ‘hello, goodbye.’ I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!” And much less like The Cheshire Cat, observing the speed of culture with a different attitude. “Most everyone’s mad here.” Or, his famous observation, “Some go this way, some go that way, but as for me, myself, personally, I prefer the shortcut.”
He’s right, and his preference for the shortcut has taken on new meaning in our American culture. We now move at the speed of a swipe, or a close of a box. We don’t even type an entire sentence anymore; there is just no time. Now, nvm becomes nevermind, np becomes no problem, or lu for love you. We don’t even have time to write I love you!
Maybe we can take Paul Simon’s words to heart:
Slow down, you move too fast
You’ve got to make the morning last
Just kickin’ down the cobblestones
Lookin’ for fun and feelin’ groovy.
If only we had, like Paul’s song says, “No deeds to do, no promises to keep,“ but that is only true in 60s songs or the lives of Downton Abbey matriarchs, and I doubt that anything is going to change any time soon unless we change. We need to slow down, talk to a lamppost, watch the flowers growin’, kick a cobblestone, and feel groovy!
One day at a time. One moment at a time. Changed lives, change the world. One life at a time. Starting with yours and mine.
TAKE THE TOO-FAST TEST:
- Do you eat fast?
- Do you talk fast?
- Do you put words into the mouths of “slow talkers” to finish their sentences?
- Do you feel harried, anxious, and overwhelmed at work?
- Do you feel annoyed in slow checkout lines?
- Do you find yourself impatient in traffic?
- Do you push the walk button or the elevator button more than once?
- Do you get frustrated with people who are late?
- Do you do multiple things all at once to save time?
- Do you always feel pressed for time?
- Do you get restless when you have to sit still?
- Do you feel guilty when you are sitting, relaxing, doing nothing or doing something for yourself?
What would it take to slow down?
- Be present wherever you are, and don’t think about where you need to be next.
- Slowly eat and enjoy your food mindfully., your digestive system will thank you.
- Let others talk and express their thoughts completely, without “help” from you.
- Appreciate the slower pace of others (like you would for a 1-year old learning to walk, and in traffic picture your grandmother behind the wheel or your teen just learning to drive). You may learn to take your time.
- When work makes you feel overwhelmed: Step back. Step away. Take a breather. You are not a machine.
- Greet people in the checkout line. You may greet your new best friend, best client, or the best part of your day and you won’t know it if you are just focused on you, and your time.
- People who are late likely have too much on their plate (pass this article along),
- Offer others the same kind of grace that you want for yourself.
- Doing more than one thing at a time does not make you worthy of a badge. It often ends in doing several things with less efficiency or creativity and can lead to a need to do things over again, or missing something important. Any job worth doing is a job worth doing well.
- Relaxing IS doing something! It is taking care of yourself. It is a sign of wisdom and maturity.
I work on these things daily, so it takes one to know one! If you read this article and it speaks to you in any way, I’d love to know. As a Health Advisor with Wellview Health, it is my privilege to assist many who seek to make changes in their lives in any way, to walk with each of them as they do. I would consider it an honor to be your Health Advisor.
Click HERE to learn more about the Wellview services available to you. We can’t wait to work with you!
– STEPHANIE WOLFE, NBC-HWC