Tip on the Tightrope
A few days ago I was worrying over a major change I sensed coming. When these feelings hit me I never know what will soothe them – a new haircut or a move across the country? Thankfully I think I’ve figured it out. The change is me. Well, me and my new husband.
Before NJS and I left for our honeymoon, we were (individually and together) total wrecks. Sure, wedding planning is stressful. Moving is stressful. Working at a start-up is stressful. Starting your own business is stressful. Doing all of these things within a few months time, all at once, is a terrible shock to the system and we reacted accordingly. We struggled with each other, with migraines, with sometimes paralyzing anxiety – and through it all we kept telling ourselves it would be better on the other side. When we got to Portland, and realized how much we didn’t want to go back to that life we had left before the wedding, we made some vows to each other to make sure that we don’t:
MORE friends – we spend too many evenings networking or seeing friends at tweetups and not having dinners at home or even just meeting for a post-work cocktail. We will make a concerted effort in our marriage to deepen our relationships with our friends, not just with each other.
MORE books – our home boasts shelves and shelves of books, and we never make time to read them. That stops now.
MORE yoga/massage/taking care of our physical selves – we have both found natural ways to be good to ourselves, but we restrict our access to them out of fear of cost and time. The reality is there are no better investments than those that help us keep at bay the anxiety and chronic headaches and stress that make us people we don’t like and keep us from being our best.
LESS stress – easier said than done, but it comes with the territory of reprioritization. We have both fretted over things that just didn’t matter, worried over outcomes that were much more negative and dramatic in our heads than in reality. We are not neurosurgeons or pilots or even parents yet. No one’s limbs fall off if NJS doesn’t shave or if I don’t have all the answers. Less shaving, more “I don’t know.”
LESS anger – everyone in Boston is hustling to get to where they next need to be, and in a place that is small and filled with even smaller T cars and sidewalks and offices and homes that only get that much tinier when winter cold and snow pushes us all further into our corners, anger comes quickly. It’s so much easier to fall into the negative attitudes and selfish behavior that’s happening all around than it is to smile and be kind, but you’ll note this list doesn’t say MORE easy.
LESS work – this is a tough one. NJS is starting a business, and can’t very well take a day off when things are moving forward swiftly. And I’m not the sort of person who refuses to work outside of a 9-5 weekday block, especially when we’re in a particularly ramped-up time at the office. But both NJS and I are guilty of not having boundaries. We will wake up, roll over in bed and grab the Blackberries, typing out emails before we even say good morning to each other. We can’t make room for the MOREs if we don’t set boundaries. In fact, maybe this isn’t LESS work so much as MORE boundaries. Yes, that’s better.
Work/life balance is all about more of some and less of the other. It doesn’t mean it has to be perfectly even; some people like having more work or more life than do others. It’s harder than it sounds to figure out what the right balance is for you, and harder still to make it happen. The easy thing would be to come home and fall right back into old patterns. If you need me, I’ll be on the tightrope, finding and figuring out how to keep my balance.