One of my favorite things in the world is to spend my mornings out on the apartment balcony.
As my Minnesota peeps can attest, these mornings are made all the more precious because it’s really only an option for…about half the year? More than that if you’re brave and have wool socks, less if Mother Nature decides to be a brat.
Anyway. It’s one of my absolute favorite-est things. During the week, I hate hearing my alarm go off, but once the weekend rolls around I’m normally up fairly early, and I love to sit out there, feet braced on the rail, coffee mug in hand. I love the way morning air smells and feels. Sometimes I read out there. Sometimes I write. A lot of the time I just sit and look and let my mind wander, occasionally venturing back to the coffee pot for a refresh.
However, for most of the summer—prime MN outdoor time, mind you—I wasn’t able to enjoy this simplest of pleasures.
It was my own fault. I’m not denying it. So please keep in mind that what follows is not a complaint or a thinly veiled request for sympathy. It’s more a recitation of facts.
I wasn’t able to enjoy my mornings on the balcony because I simply didn’t have the time. I had a full time job, a regular 9-5, as well as a part-time job. You may or may not have read mention of that on the blog before.
Anyway, my part-time job was a work from home thing, very convenient. Easy. Only fifteen hours a week.
And why did I have two jobs? Well, that’s a good question. The part-time gig was something I applied to last winter when I unexpectedly found myself jobless after the company I was working for closed. I had already gotten a new job, but when I was offered the part-time job as well, I figured, why not? It would give me some extra cash to spend, and 15 hours wasn’t that bad, right?
Looking back, I just mentally pat myself on the head like a child. Dear, dear Tierney. How naive.
You see, 15 hours may not be that much extra (and I know there are people out there who do it! remember: this is not a cry for pity) but it cuts quite a lot into…hell, into everything.
After working 8 hours at my “regular” job, I’d come home, scarf down something that Kyle, bless him, usually made, and then I’d work 2-3 more hours. And then—I’d go to bed, get up, and do it all over again. I barely read, I barely watched TV (which, I guess, isn’t necessarily bad), I barely kept up with the blog. I stopped reviewing plays. I stopped meeting friends during the week. I stopped eating out. And I stopped enjoying my mornings on the balcony.
When Saturday rolled around, I usually had 2-3 more hours to work to finish out my week’s worth of work in the part-time job. There was no set time I had to work, but as soon as I woke up Saturday morning, I felt like I should just start and get it done with. Instead of savoring my cuppa, I was furiously working so I could start my “real” weekend.
It’s a little depressing when your weekend doesn’t get to start until 10 or even noon. By that time, the coffee is gone, and the balcony is baking hot in the sun. Yuck. Not quite as magical.
Then, you know how weekends go. Always something going on. A grad party, a wedding, a gathering, a day with a friend. Before you know it, it’s Sunday evening, and you’re starting another 2-3 hours of part-time work to get a jump on the week.
That was my life. A lot of work, with the fun stuff crammed into the edges. Since I was working weekends (because I just couldn’t muster the energy to get all the part-time work done during the week), I very rarely had a full, bonafide day off.
It was draining. I know a lot of people out there have it worse than I did. A lot of people are working more, longer, and tougher hours for less pay. But even so, I didn’t feel like myself. More like a stressed out, whacked out, sleep deprived, joy deprived version of me.
Or, maybe I shouldn’t say I didn’t feel like myself. Because “myself” has an unfortunate habit of overextending said self in the effort to do it all. I’m an achiever (no, really, I took a personality test—a legitimate one, not some Buzzfeed shit—that said so), and I like to be busy.
It’s a fine line between busy and crazy.
I was once told that I seemed like a person who functioned at her best with a lot of projects going on. And that’s true. Even now, I still think it is true. But the situation I was in was too much for me. I’m sure there are others who could have handled it. I could not. It took me a while to realize it, and even longer to act to change it, but I realized I needed my down time. My time to read and sit with my coffee on the balcony. I needed time to just be.
And now? Now I’m down to one job, like a normal, sane twenty-something who also wants to enjoy the precious few years left of being young—if almost 25 still sounds as young.
I’m reclaiming my mornings. Saturday rolls around, and my first waking thought is not about work. I can sit in my chair with my coffee and, now that fall is here, a blanket. I can read, I can doodle away in my notebook, I can just sit back and enjoy.
And it’s not just mornings. Slowly, I am filling up my calendar with fun things again. Things like coffee with friends and reviewing plays and wedding venue visits. I have time again. Time, that most precious commodity.
I feel like myself again. I have energy for projects. I have recipes I want to make, blog posts I want to write. I’ve spent time with family. When friends stay over, I don’t secretly wish for them to hurry up and leave because I’ve got work to do. I redid my front door wreath for fall. I binged Defenders. I haven’t kept track, but I’ve probably read more books in the last month than I did all summer. Who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll actually tackle my messy closet, too.
I’m still the person who likes to have a lot going on, but I’m doing things that give me life, not suck me dry. I feel nourished and vibrant again, like my sage plant when I remember to water it. I’m smiling and excited rather than wilty and dejected.
So what’s the point at the end of this very lengthy blog post? It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but—use me as Exhibit A—it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder:
Your time is valuable.
How are you spending it?