From Where I Sit – Job One

My name is Hazel and I’m a recovering workaholic.

An insightful reading of these From Where I Sit columns over the past ten years or so would have revealed that I have a challenge striking a reasonable balance between work and play. In some columns I’ve stated my dilemma candidly along with whatever trick I was trying to fix it. In others one needed to read between the lines to spot the insanity.

For much of this year I’ve been seeing a naturopath. With the use of remedies and supplements I’m noticing subtle changes in attitude and behaviour, and improved well-being. My sleep cycle is better. I feel calmer, less frenetic yet am still incredibly productive and can (and do) out-work people half my age. I do what I do because I want to do it. When something stops being fun or a challenge I drop it like a hot potato.

But I also notice that some things are suffering because of my busyness. I’m losing control of the yard work and worst of all, I don’t seem to care. I didn’t visit a nursery this spring, didn’t buy a single bedding plant. My latest brainwave is that we cut down three or four big trees and remove a flowerbed so at least once before I die I can have a garage that I could actually park a car in.

Step by little step, decision-by-decision headway is being made. In the last while we’ve attended a Sunday evening birthday party for a friend, had Grady here for a two-night sleepover, spent a day in Edmonton doing personal stuff. I could have easily filled that time with work. But the sky didn’t fall and the world didn’t stop turning on its axis.

Part of the decision-by-decision strategy involves dropping tasks that too much work with too little payoff. It means being wise enough to know what is humanly possible and saying no to what isn’t. A younger, more foolish Hazel would have taken on (and did) anything that looked remotely interesting or useful that came along.

Now I look around me and see many of my counterparts, friends, colleagues, and strangers working harder than ever but also knowing when to say no. When to just pick up and go on a trip. When to drop everything and party. When to put each other and family first. Some of these lessons I’m learning from my own children.

Others you grasp when you see lives cut short by illness or injury. When those deferred plans for travel, freedom, happiness, and the good life come screeching to a halt. Regrets set in. Shoulda, coulda, woulda becomes the mantra. I want us to be smarter than that. I want us to do the right things in the right order.

So, for now I’ll finish my festival work and get through harvest. Then the fun begins. Planning rewards for all that hard work becomes job one, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..