Sunday, March 06, 2011

Refueling; MMM 3-6

For the past three months, my weekly routine has gone something like this:

Work and feel exhausted all week.
View weekends as a refuge where I try to refuel in the solitude of my den.

It got better when I moved to San Francisco, my commute was cut in half, I got knocked down by the flu, and I finally decided to stop waking myself up at 6 to be “productive” and just let my body rest until it told me it was feeling energized enough to try multitasking 6 different projects plus work (if you count “start exercising again” as a project, for example). But my weekends were still consumed with packing, moving, unpacking, moving some more, sleeping, and inhabiting a very comatose, very vegetative and introverted state.

Then, a couple weekends ago while I was out for a late afternoon run, the words of a mentor floated through my brain. We had been talking about the challenges of working at non-profits and dealing with burnout. “Every 3 or 6 months, check in with yourself,” he told me. “If you’re putting more into your job then you’re getting out of it, that’s not sustainable.”

“I’m putting WAY more into this job!” I think I did actually stop running and put my hands on my hips in indignation.

I tend to have this problem. As a former boss and professor once said to me, “I don’t think you could ever take a job where you’re NOT a little bit crazy about it.” She meant “where your heart’s not invested,” i.e. just viewing a job as a place to sink my bum from 9 to 5. I also really hate not doing a good job at something, especially if I can see how it could have been better. I did have one job where it was easier to “leave work at the office,” but 1) I was really good at that job, if I do say so myself, so I didn’t spend hours stewing over the ways that I could be doing a better job, and 2) it was a job with a really tightly defined scope and very little room for advancement in the company, so even if I wanted to get all crazy about going above and beyond, there wasn’t much opportunity to do so anyways.

So. Some counterbalancing has been in order because I know I need to mentally step away from work in order to give adequately at work. First up was some much-needed catch up time with friends across the bay. Last weekend I daytripped out to Oakland for some lovely fooding and thrifting adventures.

The ever lovely Ali, showing off a lovely royal blue, craftsy (if not handmade) handbag. We were good in the handbag department, but I fell down when it came to shirts and Ali scored herself some nice muslining source materials and fabrics. Imagine the two of us hogging a full mirror in the dresses section, me with some polyester goodness/horror (depending on your perspective) over my jeans, scheming together about refashion potential, all the while oblivious to the poor, nice old lady waiting patiently behind us to use the mirror. It turns out I have a collar fixation, I have it something bad and Ali is about the best/worst enabler in existence (again, depending on your perspective. I love her; my pocketbook does not).

And then my good friend Lindsay introduced me to some amaaaaaaazing hot chocolate over at Bittersweet on College. Chocolate cafe? Why are these things not popping up all over the place? They are truly amazing. I loved how the shop used vintage desks as cafĂ© tables. We also had some fabulous Japanese food. We were a little stunned that we’re going on ten years of friendship. It certainly doesn’t feel like a decade could have possibly passed already … and yet, when I think about the person I was when I first entered college, I think maybe, yes, it really has been ten years.

Ah yes, it was nice.

And now ... more outfit photos!

Day 4.

Handmade/refashioned skirt. You can't tell but I'm wearing olive green tights, which add a really nice depth to most outfits (being neutral but colored). Apologies for the awkward pose, still trying to find a good spot to take photos. I thought I'd found the perfect place ... and all I had to do was unplug this ugly cable that was getting in the way ... and it turned out that I unplugged my roommate's cable connection. Oops!

Day 5.

Handmade sweater. If I could get away with it, these are the only types of pants I'd ever wear. But check out my mom's orchids!!! (I went home for the weekend) Does she have a green thumb or what?

Day 6.
Handmade sweater. Holding a lemon from my parent's garden and a macaroon that my friend and I picked up after brunch this morning. (More refueling! Literally) This sweater is so darn cozy, I can't believe it.


Sigrid said...

Oh, Non-profit Burnout Syndrome (NPBS ?), I know what you are talking about. At a certain point you think, am I good, hardworking person or just stupid ? I don't know your exact situation, but I do agree one must think about long term effectiveness not just getting through a seemingly urgent too long to-do list every day. Anyway, glad your weekend was lovely.
I have been cogitating on the "X-principle," I wish I had read that earlier.

Zonnah said...

I am so happy you got to refuel!!!

Ali said...

Ha ha! Loveliness, so great to see u again. Ill have a convo with ur pocketbook re: my enabling (ill be good!) So it will let u hang with me again. Next stop: SF. Once spring hits I'm ready to sew the crepe and need ur eye for prints!

Minnado said...

I can sympathise with you about the burnout and need to refuel. Shopping with Ali? I am jealous! I am also jealous that you live somewhere where lemons grow in gardens! Outfits looking good, especially loving the handknitted jumper. x

Tilly said...

Good for you, that sounds like a really relaxing weekend. I also have trouble not taking on too much - I'm a natural worrier, list-maker and non-relaxer. Even when I'm doing something potentially relaxing I see it as a chore that needs to be ticked off my list. So I'm trying to make an effort to reshift my focus and "see the potential for fun in everything I do". Including work work - playing offices, if you will!

Ally said...

Funny you should talk about it now when I'm struggling to find my peace outside (and at) work.
Refuelling - so much needed.

Once read in a book (titled:stress related illnesses-for people that give too much) that you can achieve 90% of work by giving only 60% of yourself - not the standard 110% I normally tend to give.

Hope week goes well - weekend certainly looked great!

jessica said...

Oh wow, I was surprised by how many of us face this challenge!

Sigrid ~ I was very struck by the X-principle when I first discovered it too!

Ali ~ haha, you know me, prone to hyperbole! YES please do come to SF -- OR we could go check out the Alameda Flea Market, first Sundays of the month!

Tilly ~ I do this too! I can't believe how "productivity driven" my weekends always seem, even if its things that tend to relax me anyways I can't seem to not overschedule myself and make sure that I'm always moving. Hm.

Ally ~ I love this concept! Reminded myself of it at work today, actually. Do hope you find you are able to refuel outside of work!

Anonymous said...

Great advice about checking in with yourself on input vs. output. Most crafter/bloggers have a tendency to overload themselves and I too am one of them. glad you are taking some time for fun and friends.