Friday, September 7, 2012

Putting Together the Day-to-Day Puzzle

Another Friday morning at Starbucks, kicked off by libations with friends before I settled in with my laptop. I am slowly settling into something resembling a routine, making time each day for things I love, alongside things I need to do.

Today, though, I seem to be putting off the things I need to do, focusing instead on e-mails to friends. Though they didn't make the to-do list, those e-mails are an important piece of the puzzle I'm trying to put together as I take charge of my daily schedule.

Long ago, I learned to enjoy living by myself. Second semester of my senior year in college, I got a single, and though I shared an apartment during my first year in grad school, that following summer, I went back to living alone, a trend that continued until I met my husband.

It's not that I'm anti-social. At first, it was circumstances that caused the shift. Roommates making other plans. Apartment availability. Moving to a new area.

But with experience, I learned not only how to enjoy the solitude, but how to balance it with social time so I didn't become a hermit. Peace and quiet and time alone afforded me time to think, plan, and pursue things I loved to do, while time with friends ensured that I got out of the house from time to time and made sure my social skills didn't completely deteriorate.

Fast forward thirty years, and I find myself in a similar situation. Other people - people I love - share my home now, but during the day, when they are at work and school, I have hours to fill and quiet time in which to accomplish both the things I love and the things I need to do.

Striking a balance is essential, and, thanks to my previous experience, not as difficult as I imagined or feared. I'm pretty self-directed, so when things need to get done, they do, but just as my body craves good food after too much junk, my psyche craves social time after too much time alone, and vice versa.

I have spent both my personal and professional life cultivating relationships. When I was working in a building full of people - many of whom sought my attention, thanks to the nature of my job - it was easy to make sure my social needs were fulfilled. Now, however, it's a little more complex.

But, thanks to that lifetime of cultivating relationships, it's easy to find the perfect spot for each piece of the puzzle. Geography dictates that some relationships are maintained via e-mail and Facebook, while others are nurtured via phone calls and face-to-face meals and meetings. Where these fit into the space of the day depends on not just the day, but the to-do list as well.

I am slowly learning that relaxing into all this new adventure has to offer also means listening to the little voice that reminds me that it's time to be social - unless of course, there's a deadline looming and the little voice is pulling me off-task. But, as in so many things, balance is key. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl, after all...

...and dull is something I never aspired to be.

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