It’s been a crazy few weeks. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines! What is it about this time of year? Conferences (“Presenters, please submit your abstracts by such-and-such…”), quarterly reports (hmmmm, almost forgot about that), manuscripts (“Dear Author: Your deadline date has come and gone…”), papers (hmmm, must think of something marvelous to write), etc.
So much to do, so little time! This where the fine art and practice of ‘balance’ comes in.
When deadlines are looming (or, in some cases, have passed), sometimes the worst thing I can do is buckle down and ‘pound the paper’ for hours on end. I have tried. In my case, writers block can’t always be cured by staring blankly at a screen in the hopes that a light bulb will go off. Nope. I find that ‘life unrelated’ (to work) often provides the best inspiration; the best incentive. It gets the grey matter functioning.
I often lean on Twitter and Facebook as sources and channels for information. But these social media platforms also provide a virtual space for ‘play’ – a ‘grown up recess’, so to speak. There’s nothing like taking few minutes out of a hectic work day to participate in some online banter. Exchanges with friends and colleagues are both therapeutic and inspirational even if they are sometimes trivial. This virtual space has become important socializing space for me and runs a good second-best to a departmental gathering in the lounge for coffee break. I miss the face-to-face interaction as I do most of my work from home here in Alberta but social media helps me feel much more connected to my colleagues.
Volunteering in the community is also a great outlet for the busy, academic mind. Great for the community too. I work on the publicity committee for our local theatre group – Dewdney Players – an activity that I enjoy very much. Dewdney Players consists of a wonderful group of artsy, creative types from diverse backgrounds (life, work and otherwise) that are quick to laugh and always ready to have fun. Additionally, I get to work on the Ag Media Committee for the Calgary Stampede. Rosie Templeton (@rotempleton) got me connected to this group and I am really looking forward to planning and organizing over the next few months and to an exciting 10 days in July! This year is special, too, as the Stampede celebrates 100 years!
Family time is also important. Our kids are grown now and quite independent. But my husband (Blair) and I do spend quite a bit of time supporting their respective activities. Tanya is involved in the local music scene and is preparing to record her first EP this spring. So, we have been busy putting together a marketing plan for her grant applications. Not to mention, we are always tossing around ideas in efforts to design, develop and update promo materials. We regularly attend Tanya’s concerts and events, her open mics and (of course) the competitions that she has participated in. Hayden, our son, is involved in Dewdney’s spring production of “Rodeo & Julie-Ed” which promises to be an excellent event! We look forward to cheering on his efforts there. I try to make an appearance at Blair’s team roping jackpot events which seem to occur every other week. He also competes in the Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo and I DO get to those! Great fun!
So, yes, work is important. But so is ‘life’. I spent many years with my nose stuck in books and my eyes glued to computer screens. “My name is Cami and I am a work-aholic.” Now, I find that I am just as – if not more – productive. I guess that I have learned to work smarter, not harder. And that leaves room for ‘play’ – and balance.