Righting the work/life balance

Its been a quiet couple of months here at Trees With the Fur On, the yearly collapse of my work/life balance occurred in late October, and it has been a rather long road to climb back out of the crater it left. I found my mind was so intensely focused on my work and single handedly running a household (my husband was traveling for work most of this fall) I had virtually no brain space left to process non work related thoughts, let alone form those thoughts into words and sentences and meaning. I felt it happening. I could feel my brain solidifying, filling up, and becoming less resilient, less responsive. Not to sound paranoid but I am of an age now where in the back of your mind you think about early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia and wonder if this is what it feels like.

And not that work was bad this fall, it was good, really good. I was all consumed but fully engaged. I got to read Moby Dick with a handful of terrific students, I got to try several new techniques and topics with my patient and willing Ocean Science class, I read across the scientific literature with my marine science juniors. I mourned the loss of the El Faro along side everyone else on campus. It was a full semester.

We are now on winter break, and I am taking the first two weeks of the break to completely and utterly cleave from my job. I’m trying to get my head back. And that means not thinking about the classes I’m teaching this spring, yet. It means slowly unwinding as much as possible during the wind up to Christmas, it means getting used to having my honey back home. It means taking the time to take stock of all the cool things I’ve been privileged to do this past year and all the people I’ve been blessed to spend time with. So many things happened last year that I never got around to writing about. They’ve been bouncing around in my head for months, felting together, finding meaning. I am looking forward to finally putting the words together, constructing the stories, creating the memory, shaping reality. You’ll be sharing that reality in the near future.

It is snowing today, our first real snow event this winter here on the coast. In an hour or so, once I know the sun has topped the ridge to the east I’ll go out for a run before the snow gets too deep. Already the goldfinches are out at the feeder, I can hear them chattering away as the day grows lighter. Just sitting down to write this morning after getting the fire going is an affirmation; my head is clearing, thoughts are flowing. The impossible is seeming more possible once again.

Post Script: I went for that run. It was just right.

That's my kind of mascara.

That’s my kind of mascara.

Sarah O'Malley

About Sarah O'Malley

Sarah is a science educator, naturalist, writer, tide pool fanatic and burgeoning obsessive trail runner. From personal experience she believes strongly in the restorative power of contact with nature, especially experiences that make your heart beat a little faster or get your hands and feet dirty. She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula with her husband and two dogs.