Is work/life balance actually a thing?

I read something that scared me last week. I was sitting at my daughter’s softball game, which I rarely do, because I’m usually working, too tired from working, or working on a writing project. Plus, her dad is amazing sports dad, dinner dad, driving dad, every good dad thing, soooo I’m off the hook if I want to be. But I was at this game because I was lonely and feeling isolated and her amazing dad insisted that I join them.

And I sneaked a peek at my e-mail and found a Brené Brown blog celebrating her 23rd year of recovery, and that is where I saw the scary thing: “Over the past two decades, food and work have emerged as my real drugs of choice.” OMG, people. ME TOO.

In my twenty-five years in bakeries, I’ve probably only gotten out of work on time a handful of times. I work holidays. I arrive at family functions with a bag of clothes, so that I can change out of my work uniform. I have caused countless small arguments by being late. Or not showing up at all.

I work about an hour overtime every shift, at the expense of my body, my family, and my creative life.

And the food thing? I’m a sugar addict. I don’t have a weight problem. My blood sugar is fine. My cholesterol is fine. All my numbers are fine. Just got them checked yesterday. But I eat cake when my mood dips. I eat cookies when I start to get frustrated, which is every day at about 3:30 pm when I have to reprioritize my bakery list (and my co-workers lists) because there’s no way we are going to get everything done. (Mind you, the list is always impossible, and yet, every day, I think I can do it. Every day, I stay late trying to do it all. Every day, I feel like I’ve failed. Every day, I know that is ridiculous…and yet…I keep doing it. Does this sound familiar to anyone?)

At every opportunity, I counsel my colleagues, from my years of experience, that they need to maintain work/life balance NOW, while they are young. They need to leave on time because it’s impossible to do everything, and we might value our jobs GREATLY, but it’s a grocery store, and tomorrow is another day. Our bodies/families/lives are more important than cake, cookies, pies, and tarts. And then I kind of maybe sometimes stay late finishing their lists.

So.

Work and food are my drugs of choice, and I am well aware of the ravages they make in my life. I’m exhausted by a double shot of too much work and too much sugar. And the worst part? It’s alllll me. I have a colleague who suffers from a similar problem. She thinks leaving bakery is the solution. I disagree. I tell her that her problems will take a new shape in a new job, that she will be bored with less chaos, that *I* will help her manage her work/life balance, which means I send her home on time and stay late, because I am a work addict, too.

I have the day off today, and my to-do list spans TWO DAYS in my planner. I LOVE my projects. I DO. But every so often, because I seem to learn the same lessons in this life over and over, I need to remember that I am my project, too.

And, yes, I said basically the same thing in my last blog on May 13th. LOL. Same lessons. Over and over. 🙂

Going, going…gray?

So I’m writing this book. You know, the one I’ve been writing for-ever. I’m also planning a bat mitzvah (fast approaching in 2 1/2 weeks!), and I’m teaching at night. So it probably isn’t the best time to decide to get serious about self-publishing, but it does follow my pattern of keeping myself buried in projects. As my husband pointed out a few years ago when I was complaining about being so busy and stress-y, “You like it like that.”

My first multigrain loaf. A little flat. Needed more salt. But pretty!
My first multigrain loaf. A little flat. Needed more salt. But pretty!

So instead of being all tired about it, I’m embracing the chaos that comes with being a linear thinker in the middle of four big projects (at least). I am thinking, “Look at all the stuff I’m getting done!” instead of my former, “OMG I have so much to do.” I am not skipping yoga. I am remembering to eat. I am taking my vitamins. My sourdough bread-baking is going well. In a moment of holy shit epiphany the other day, I realized I do yoga, bake artisan sourdough bread, and my hair is turning silver. I’m becoming the woman I always wanted to be.

Jessica Topper. Truth: Before I met her, I used to stare at her hair. I think it is the color of courage, and I want it.

I won’t lie. The hair is giving me a bit of pause. I’m not ready to be gray, even though my beautiful mother has been silver as long as I’ve known her, even though my gorgeous friend Jessica Topper rocks her salt and pepper locks, even though I stop women with great gray hair and tell them how amazing they look. (When I can do it and only seem slightly strange, that is.) I just…I can’t…and yet, I am. I don’t understand why I’m so conflicted about my hair. It’s HAIR. I’m not vain. I clean up well, but I spent most of my time peacefully au naturel. Sometimes I forget to look in the mirror before I leave the house to run errands.

I have to assume I’m afraid of taking the step from siren to matron. I don’t like it what that says about me or how it makes me feel, but I can’t deny it. Is this how the old-people-don’t-have-sex myth got started? Because of gray hair? Or, horror of all horrors, gray pubic hair? I don’t doubt my husband’s devotion to me, but I do fear he won’t find me as attractive if I continue down the silver path. His preference for my brown hair has been stated. So has his deep and abiding love and his respect for my choice. It’s my call…

Me and my mommy!
Me and my mommy!

This was supposed to be a post about the book and conflict avoidance. Right now I’m re-writing a scene where the heroine realizes the hero has done something pretty damn unforgivable to her. As written, her internal dialogue goes something like this, “I should be mad at him, but I’m just sad and sorry for him.”

No, girl. You should be mad at him. Really mad. Kick his ass mad. Or at least throw him out of your kitchen mad.

I have no idea what that has do do with my hair, but I’ll re-write the scene. Right after I call my mother.

Anybody out there have emotions on the subject? I know I’ve brought it up on Twitter before and gotten some great responses. This hair hesitation has been going on with me for a long time! As always, commenters will be entered into my seasonal/quarterly/solstice/equinox giveaway of a gift certificate to The Ripped Bodice. (International winner would have to make do with Amazon) 🙂