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There is no such thing as work/life balance.

Is work/life balance possible?

Is there any such thing as work/life balance

Image courtesy of Flickr user fisserman

Alain de Botton is an author. He wrote the book Religion for Atheists. I’ve never read it, but the premise sounds interesting. Honestly, I had never heard of de Botton until recently. I have Twitter to thank for the introduction.

Someone retweeted a Tara Gentile retweet of de Botton. Follow that? If you are on Twitter, you did.

Here is the Tweet -

[tweet https://twitter.com/alaindebotton/status/218657112744656896]

Not so fast!

If there is something worth fighting for, it’s work/life balance. If I save the world yet manage to lose my kids, how have I won? I haven’t. I lose.

Are there seasons in life when work or life will have more of my attention? Yes.

Do I want to simply live in a comfort zone? No.

Our life is a whole.

Life doesn’t separate business, life, art into their own little compartments. We do. Everything is jumbled together. One affects the other. You can try to separate them, but I guarantee you in the long run this viewpoint loses.

Fight for your family. Fight for your business. Fight for your art. Fight for your life.

In our world, fighting for balance is stepping out of the “comfort zone”.

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How to take a break (without being idle).

A long (cool) vacation.

Last Friday, Kia and I returned with our family from a 12 day vacation. It’s the longest vacation we’ve had in years, and it marks the 2nd double digit vacation we’ve taken this year. It’s one of the priorities we set when we attended the Storyline Conference in June of 2011.

Staying busy during vacation

My uncle owns a home in Silverthorne, Colorado that we were able to stay in that entire time. Minus 2 days for travel, this was 10 solid days of no “work”. The time away was incredible! While friends and family were wilting away in 100+ degree weather, we were enjoying 80 degree mountain air.

Back to reality.

Monday, I woke up to reality – writing, bills, kid activities, work, etc. I had to fight through the “I don’t want to go to work today!” blues. As I was struggling to get back to normal, a thought popped into my mind:

I need to take breaks. I don’t need to be idle.

This is what I mean…

The first week of the vacation, I read and thought a lot. I had lots of ideas for writing or business run through my head. I wrote some of them down…others are gone forever. I considered turning ideas into drafts, but I let it go.

The second week was worse. I did nothing (work related). My idle time was spent playing games on my phone. I wasn’t even reading!

I was able to relax, which is good, but I lost precious time to grow. I also lost momentum pushing me forward.

3 ways to take a break without being idle

The old saying goes “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Whether or not that is true can be debated. One thing I do know is too much idle time will set you backwards. Here are 3 ways that you can take time off without being completely idle (continue to move forward).

1. Take a little work with you.

Colorado wild flowers don't stay idleOne of Kia’s favorite quotes while we’re on vacation comes from Gretchen Rubin at the Happiness Project.

Doing a little work makes goofing off more fun.

This trip was rare. I had absolutely nothing to do in the 2 weeks I was gone. I managed to complete everything I needed done beforehand. I did put out one small fire, but nothing that needed my full attention.

Had I brought one or 2 little chores to do, I might stayed engaged.

2. Undertake a creative project.

I have come to love iPhoneography. It’s part of the reason I love Instagram. Normally, on a trip like this I have a few apps I’m learning on my iPhone or iPad. This vacation I did nothing to push myself. I took photos. I edited them but not in a new way.

I could have challenged myself to develop 15 new writing topics. I could have figured out that podcast I’ve told myself I’m going to do. I could have immersed myself in any number of creative projects, but I didn’t.

A great way to take a break, but keep busy (and continue to learn) is to challenge yourself to do something creatively out of your box.

3. Start AND finish a project.

One of my strengths (according to Strengths Finder 2.0) is being an achiever. A full 2 weeks of not achieving anything (other than a beautiful 7 mile hike) leads to frustration. I wrote down some fun ideas. I dreamed even more great thoughts. I read some interesting information. I followed through on nothing.

This point goes along with both #1 and #2. The key difference is following through and finishing the work you’ve brought and/or the creative project you’ve challenged yourself with.

4. Read.

The great thing about reading is your body can be idle, while your mind is hard at work. The first week of vacation I read several blogs (caught up on them), I read the 4th book in the Game of Thrones series (A Feast for Crows) and an old sci-fi book in the vein of 1984 – The Handmaid’s Tale.

The 2nd week I quit. I tried to get started on a couple of books, but couldn’t do it. I know leaders read, and readers lead. A great way to get reading done is to do it on vacation.

Make use of your time off

Hopefully, you have time off scheduled in the next few weeks. When you take time off for vacation or a re-charge, make sure that you take a break, but are not idle.

How do you stay “busy” when taking time off?

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Is it time for a reset?

During this Holiday weekend, I am taking a break. This will be the last post until Tuesday, May 29. I look forward to sharing with you some thoughts on what the summer will look like for The Collective.

This is a re-post from Amy Parrish originally posted last September. Make sure to read part 2 HERE.

I hope you are taking a moment to slow down and rest this weekend (or soon after it). Give yourself a little room to breathe.

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

Image by Amy Parrish for The Collective

That’s the much-needed advice Andy gave to Ryan and I.

We were driving across the country to Jennifer (Hudson) Kane’s Santa Fe photography workshop in July. We had scheduled several extra days off from the studio so we could make a leisurely trek, stop to visit with friends and tour iconic roadside attractions.

The workshop itself was to be, for myself, a time of rejuvenation and exploration into alternative printmaking methods that I could merge into my business and art. For Ryan, it would be a time to focus on his latest writing project in an environment free from distractions.

Without really meaning to, we arrived an entire day early in New Mexico. Ryan and I had risen before the sun to start each day’s journey and continued on far beyond our planned driving times. We briefly pulled over to see the St. Louis Gateway Arch as well as Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.

However, we overshot our planned visit with Andy and Kia. We stayed steady on the main interstate instead of breaking off for quirky mini-treks. We ate most of our meals in the car. I jokingly referred to Ryan as Clark Griswold for his preoccupation of making good time.

Image by Amy Parrish for The Collective

When I notified the resort that we would be arriving an entire day ahead of time, I had to jump through hoops just to get a room. Their facilities were full and, for a moment, we thought we’d need to find another place to stay for that extra night. It was like we were in a race to reach a finish line that hadn’t even been painted yet.

We finally slowed down…

Image by Amy Parrish for The CollectiveIt wasn’t until our first, full morning in Santa Fe that I was able to truly took Andy’s advice to heart.

I woke up and took a barefoot stroll around the grounds, soaking in the lavender- and sage-perfumed air. I closed my eyes breathed every ounce of it in. Ryan and I finally gave ourselves time to stop and reset. We spent a few hours sitting outside and listening to the birds nesting just above the door to our casita.

I admit I spent the first twenty minutes or so fighting a nagging feeling that I had something I to working on; editing, e-mails, blogging, photography? My mind ran rampant trying to think of things to think about! But, before long, I came to accept that taking time to do nothing at all can actually be quite productive.

I was ready for the workshop to begin…(coming soon)

Do you need to include the practice of slowing down into your time off? How do you make sure you take time to smell the roses?

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Rest really, really matters. 2 reasons why.

What a weekend!

Andy and the Bondurant's having fun at a birthday partyI’m writing this late Monday morning after another long weekend of activities (soccer, dance, birthday parties, church, more soccer, friends, meetings). I’m tired after my weekend of “rest.”

I attempt to work a traditional week (Monday through Friday) taking Saturday and Sunday off. It doesn’t always work out that perfect. On top of keeping up with the activities of 4 children and doing chores around the house, Kia and I do occasionally have to do “work.” Email, social media, phone calls, emergencies, catching up, and more are always waiting for us.

I’m sure what I live is not too different from your world. The details may change, but the essence is the same.

Identity and Success.

Within the last 12 hours, I read 2 articles reminding me of how important rest is. I wrote about it recently (the Crash and Burn post), but it isn’t always that easy to live. After another long weekend, I needed this reminder.

1. Identity. It’s not being a photographer.

Josh Graves wrote an article/commentary for foxnews.com about the value of a “day of rest.” He quotes author, professor and Episcopal priest, Barbara Brown Taylor. She tells this story of growing up in Atlanta -

When I was a junior in high school, my boyfriend Herb played on the varsity basketball team. He was not the star player however. The star player was a boy named David, who scored so many points during his four-year career that the coach retired his jersey when he graduated. This would have been remarkable under any circumstances, but it was doubly so since David did not play on Friday nights.

On Friday nights, David observed the Sabbath with the rest of his family, who generously withdrew when David’s gentile friends arrived, sweaty and defeated, after Friday night home games. Continue Reading →

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Hiding from reality? 5 ways to become more real.

Ready Player One

Ready Player One book cover by Ernest ClineA couple of weeks ago, I read, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It’s a goldmine for anyone who enjoys sci-fi, the 80′s, video games, role-playing games, or a mixture of any of those. It’s a kind of nerd’s paradise.

It’s set in postapocalyptic United States in 2044 and follows Wade Watts. Young Watts, like most of society, escapes to an online “world” called OASIS – a sort of Matrix like reality. The creator of OASIS is James Halladay (a Steve Jobs-ish character) who has recently passed away. Wade (along with millions of others) is on a scavenger hunt to win Halladay’s estate – making the winner an instant billionaire.

There are lots of subplots, but the most interesting was the strange and sad dichotomy of living in the real world versus living in OASIS. Life has become more real on OASIS than in the real world. I was reminded of Tamara Lackey’s comment in her WPPI 2012 presentation.

The problem with the 24/7 social media inundation is we stop feeling…we become numb.

If fact, Cline in his conclusion, writes these words spoken by Halladay to Wade:

I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all my life. Right up until I knew it was ending. 

That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real. Do you understand?

Do you hide from reality?

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