Something I’m Not in Charge Of

Trying to ponder and shift the balance of activities and obligations in my life has reminded me how important it is to have “something else” I’m passionate about, other than writing. The passion that got me through grad school was martial arts, which I blogged about, studied, and trained in to near obsession. I also putzed around with music a lot, singing informally with a group of women once a week. But more than anything else during that time in my life, the gift of walking into the dojo to train in body, mind, and spirit helped apply just the right amount of pressure and balance to my schedule. The results were a tired body and an open mind–perfectly suitable for long hours of sitting quietly at the desk, once I’d showered all the sweat and salt off. It also eased my mind greatly to know that each time I showed up to class, I wasn’t in charge. No matter how my day had been or what gripe I might have had, my job was simply to do what I was told, to the best of my ability. I relished not being “in charge” and found freedom in the fact that nothing mattered but the physical and mental challenges put before me in that very moment.

When you’re self-employed, those moments of not being in charge can never be underestimated. Day in and day out, you are your own boss and your own “employee of the month.” You’re constantly balancing those two roles. Your financial stability, your professional development, and your professional reputation depend upon your ability to manage both roles effectively. At the end of the day, you can step away–something I’ve been working on by trying not to work after dinnertime–but if you’re like me, you then find yourself “in charge” of what do to with your evening. I read. I cook. I read some more. I try to stay away from email as it will pull me back into work mode. But even these things, at least right now, require conscious shaping and effort. Goodness! That book tour gave me some sort of multi-tasking-high-alert-obsessive-effectiveness disease

I need a cure. If my martial arts instructor hadn’t moved to Florida, I never would have stopped training. And while I’m quite disciplined at my own exercise plan each week, that’s also exactly the problem–because I’m the one in charge of that discipline and after being in charge all day, the last thing I need is more of it. What can fill this space–Soccer? Training for a 10K? If I lived in a city, I could join a rec atheltics league. Perhaps I need some sort of extreme yoga? Whatever it is, it needs to involve community and accountability. Come wintertime, the two trail crews I volunteer for are really good for that. But here, now–what is there? I’ve made a goal to try and find out.

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