Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Thoughts on Wednesday (my "Sunday")

I work hard, and unusual hours. That's my choice, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sometimes, though, being a self-employed person has its trade-offs and drawbacks. Paperwork, being responsible for one's insurance, taxes, etc...promotion of one's enterprises to keep the revenue flowing...finding the right people in related fields to help with things out of one's field of expertise...making (hopefully) not-too-costly mistakes from which one can news to anyone, right?

What's usually forgotten is how we independent souls have to remember to function as our own HR (Human Resources) and EAP (Employee Assistance Program).

For my first 35 years as a full-time wage-earner, I drew my pay and benefits from the corporate world. Among the requirements, aside from performing within my job descriptions, were the expected attendance at staff meetings (zzzzzz), and adhering to schedules that were, more often than not, wholly inflexible. There were dress codes that were unevenly enforced, and usually subject to individual interpretation by an array of supervisors. And that ultimate guilt-trip, the let's-all-be-good-team-players-shall-we? As much as I (for the most part), liked the coworkers I met over the years, this last dictum was always bound to get my inner rebel to rise up. What the hell did "good team players" mean anyway? Again, usually what a supervisor felt at any given moment, someone who was sequestered in his/her corner office, often had only a passing acquaintance with "the workers," as well as how "the work" was really done, and was purposely kept out of the true communication loop. Most of us "workers" did support each other, but we found managerial reminders to do so irritating and demeaning.

One thing I took away from these 35 years was that there were two versions of office life -- the official, and the real.

Despite the above accounts, I found my workplace communities, at their best, supportive. Except for the last place I worked (which would have been bearable save for one abusive coworker), people were attuned to each other. Early on, I developed a bad habit of "forgetting" to go on vacation for years at a stretch, and then have a concerned coworker call me on it.

So, when recently I found myself becoming fatigued and irritable, I channeled my "inner-EAP," and backed off for a few days to recoup my energy. How many times am I lecturing my clients about balance, huh? And part of being my own boss is knowing how and when to take care of myself.

Today is Wednesday, my usual day off. But my M.O. lately has been to be online before dawn, before my coffee has even brewed, and "just one email" leads to another. I see things on my desk that can really wait, but still beckon. And so, I get sucked into the vortex of "working, but not really...". C'MON, VALARIE!

This morning, summoning up my awareness, I stayed far away from my desk; in fact, I didn't go even near my office door. I stayed out in my living room, with the radio playing KUSC, Tiggy purring on the back of the lounge chair, reading some issues of Newberry: The Lifestyle Magazine of Newberry County (South Carolina). My brother and sister-in-law have lived in that region for years, and Kevin often sends me these lovely publications, so I can have a sense of his life back there. How else would I have found out about Elmer "The Spoon Man" Fleming (see photo below)? BTW, Newberry Magazine has its own FB page, too.

Resisting the strong message that I "should get up now and do something," I perused a library book by William Stage, Ghost Signs, chock-full of wonderful photos of old signs from the early 1900's, painted on brick walls, and the "wall dogs" who plied their art. I learned something I didn't know -- that there's a Society for Commercial Archeology (, and I want to add this to my passions for preservation. Rounding out my morning of decadent, purposeful goofing-off, I began my new issue of Preservation Magazine. The afternoon will be spent looking at something my mother recently got, Sears, Roebuck & Co.:The Best of 1905-1910 Collectibles.

Yes, I'm online blogging about this now, but it's serving the purpose of reconnecting in a social way, now that I'm resting. I'm on the mend.

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