Working a Little

OK, so it seems that even when one is not working, there is still plenty to do that makes the days fly by… was it October I started this?

Not a good start.

One of the groups I seemed to miss from the previous post, were those who are not working because their working life is over… they have retired and earned the right to be supported by the rest of us, and by the fruits of their own labour. At the rate I am going, I will not be entering this group until my 70’s… hopefully I will remain as energetic and spritely as my own mother, who doesn’t show any sign of slowing down in her 60’s.

So what have I been doing in my not-working-ness?

Well, incubating has taken up a load of time, and given me lots of little money-saving projects to pursue. I have reverted to my crafty homemaker roots and kitted out the house for a newcomer.

I spent a few nights a week teaching a Bosnian woman English… she made excellent progress, so it was hard to have to say goodbye to her at Christmas time, but the 18-mile round trip to her house seemed a bit foolhardy as I got increasingly bigger and the weather increasingly treacherous. I hope they find her someone new and friendly in the New Year.

I still managed to go into the local community arts centre once or twice a week to help with office work and usher at shows and help with special events. This has kept me sane… being in a work environment, interacting with other adults and feeling a sense of contribution to a creative community were all good for the soul. These are the things we gain from work. I was pleasantly surprised this year to discover that I could still gain all of these same satisfactions from voluntary work (not that this the the first foray into volunteerism, I was involved in volunteer community work for all of my 20’s in NZ). The main things that were missing were the remuneration (and how I miss that!) and the sense of obligation that creates.

Finally, I did gain a work permit… and by early December, began some gainful employment. Ironically, at about the time some women start to take maternity leave! But it was only freelance contracting work that I could do from home, sort of on my own terms. It was fairly repetitive work that I was slow at… and so I did feel quite pressured by deadlines and that aforementioned sense of obligation. And without the comaraderie of a workplace environment, it was not as satisfying as I had hoped. But to be contributing, even a little, financially, to the family coffers is a good feeling. Though it now appears that the imminent emergence of the baby will put paid to that endeavour for the time being.

So, technically, back to not working again…

Some people seem to find the days stretch out before them with nothing to do but watch TV and DVDs when they are not working. Boredom quickly sets in, and so does even a mild form of depression. Although I am a slothful sort (I do love to lounge around in my PJs if given half a chance), I am never short of things to do, places to go, people to see. I think life is too short not to fill it with some kind of practical activity. Of course, many things cost money… but it is still possible to have a good time without spending much, if anything. (Quite a key consideration when one is not earning anything!)

So even a not-worker like me can end up feeling a sense of ‘busy-ness’ that seems to be a modern stress-inducer. Though I will be first to admit that having most of your days at your own discretion means that you can limit the stress impact by just not doing things if you run out of time… no one will care! If only work were this relaxing… my last job was 24hrs a day, 5.5 days a week and the pressure was sometimes overwhelming. Finding a balance between these two extremes is one of my future goals!

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