Workaholic, at least that’s what my kids have been telling me for years. I was skeptical, in fact, I didn’t actually believe workaholism was a real thing. It seemed to me if you have work to do, you do it and I always had work to do. It turns out it is a real thing and long hours aren’t necessarily the defining factor, but that is a discussion for another day, today I want to tell you my story;
Last summer; I was watching my husband puttering around at a time I thought he ought to be working – I was about to start complaining when I remembered what I call my “mirror challenge” and I stopped to reflect on my own “puttering”. I thought about how often I clean during prime work hours or work through dinner time. I plan to exercise but work instead, I plan to work but sleep instead … you get the idea.
At the time I was working every day, one week off at the end of the summer and 1 week off at the end of the year. I hadn’t taken a real vacation in years, I thought about work all of the time, I dreamt about it, I couldn’t shut it off. If I was cleaning instead of working it was because I couldn’t decide what to do, I’d clean so I could think.
Not one to ponder for long, I came up with a plan and presented it to my husband. We decided to start observing Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath. It begins Friday at sunset and ends Saturday after night fall. The Talmud numbers 39 acts we may not do on Shabbat – but we’re starting slow. No work, no computer or email, no talking, thinking or reading about work or money for 25 hours a week. That sounds pretty easy right?
I however found it to be pretty challenging, no computer or email was easy but shutting down my brain, not so easy, but there’s no shortage of things to do around our house so I busied myself with my back burner project, organizing the house and garage and my favorite project, gardening. Once I pulled my thoughts from work to home it was pretty easy to pull off… all good, for about a minute.
On October 29th, on our 23rd wedding anniversary, I was in the garden throwing down some dichondra seed, instead of getting dressed to go out like any normal person, I was in a bit of a rush because it was nearly dark when I kicked a paver and went down face first into the concrete, I broke the fall with my right arm. I’ll forgo all the details but suffice to say when I get hurt or sick my go to is to pass out, I didn’t even try to get up, paramedics were called and I landed in the hospital with a broken right arm.
This is when my plan became a problem, I couldn’t clean, organize, garden or exercise and I was unproductive at work as well! I couldn’t type or write, everything was taking longer, I felt like I was getting nothing done, how could I stop on Friday night?
I persisted, but I didn’t know what to do with myself for those 25 hours each week. It was confusing, disheartening and extremely uncomfortable. Looking back, I can’t tell you what I did with my time, I don’t really know. I know I didn’t work on Shabbat, or garden or clean, I didn’t cook and I didn’t knit, write or exercise. II didn’t do any of the things that generally constitute my life as I live it. I didn’t watch TV all day or read all day either. We didn’t go anywhere because I felt too vulnerable to be in the car.
I suppose you could say it was a time, fairly late in life, of self-discovery. The most disconcerting discovery being that I basically had no life outside of work.
6 Months Later
It’s almost 6 months now and from here my story flounders a bit, I suppose because it isn’t over. Inexplicably in spite of my extra days off and my lack of productivity while my arm was broken, business has improved and I am more caught up at work than I have ever been – go figure.
Having gotten pretty good results in spite of my broken arm, I’ve expanded my project, but again that’s a subject for another day and this post is long enough already, so until next time …
Remember; “The way you do anything is the way you do everything” – Tom Waits”… so, “Change anything and you change everything”. Vienna Castellaw