Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tipping the scales

This past weekend I had a visit from one of my lovely teacher-friends and her lovely teacher-friend. Naturally, being an ex-teacher, the conversation turned to teaching and the myth of 'great holidays' versus the reality of slavishly being tied to your school (and loving it, of course. It's a vocation...). We, two Australians and a Pom, talked extensively about the relaxed vibe of Amsterdam and Europe, and how the majority of people here just seem to 'get it'; that you can be passionate about your career but still work to live rather than live to work. We all got quite giddy about being out on on a school night, and I planted some seeds in my girlfriend's head about maybe looking at a teaching post here when her current contract expired.

During conversations such as these I find it very important to remind myself that even had my health not taken the decision away from me I would be still seeking greener employment pastures than a full-time teaching position. I've never been very good at following rules, and the liberation of part-time employment suits me to a T. I've also drawn great pleasure from being 'productively creative', as my first ink & whim post put it, and have found such a great work/life balance doing so.  Now, however, after seven months of 'unemployment' (or, should I say, seven months of rest, recovery, relapse and rest), these ideas of 'work' and 'hobby' and 'health' and 'disability' swim unstructured about my head, and cause me quite a bit of grief, really.

So where does this stress come from? At what point does our sense of self-worth, value and purpose come from having a job? How do you live both a balanced and meaningful life when a job is isn't an option? How can I get rid of that guilt that comes from spending a 'good day' crafting rather than doing the washing-up that so desperately needs to be done? How do we achieve this balance over all of the buckets that we need to fill - career, relationship, family, friends, health, hobbies...

This is what these musings looked like in my head in the wee hours of this morning.

It all comes down to, I suppose, what makes me happy and what sits right with my values. ink & whim has never been a monetary venture, but it's worth is priceless. It gives me an occupation rather than employment, loads of pleasure, and pride (something very elusive for the chronically ill), and it's very easy to put on the back-burner when times are a bit rough. I'm also blessed with an incredibly supportive partner, who insists that my energy is spent on playing with paper, scissors and glue rather than doing the aforementioned washing-up. So, how about I embrace this new life balance? As long as there's a mug clean for a cuppa and glue in my glue-stick, I'm happy. *Sigh*

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