December 27th, 2012
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“Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you’d care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast? Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over Seaside Heights, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water gap or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a cheerio with her thumb and first finger.
Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Each time you look at your diploma, remember that you are still a student, still learning how to best treasure your connection to others. Pick up the phone. Send an e-mail. Write a letter. Kiss your Mom. Hug your Dad. Get a life in which you are generous.”
                                             ~ Excerpt from Anna Quindlen’s Villanova Commencement Speech, 2000
Baby Practices Picking Up Cheerios

I worked a few hours in the office yesterday and then was able to leave early.  I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about cutting the work day short because I was looking forward to meeting my son at the movies.  We saw “Les Miserables” and I enjoyed it but I prefer the stage version of the iconic story about the French Revolution.

While waiting in the lobby, I let my mind wander and watched the cold, rainy weather outside.  I could feel my shoulders relax as I looked up at the clear slanted ceiling and my eyes followed the sliding raindrops down the glass.  After a few minutes, my mind seemed to empty of office concerns and I starting thinking about the importance of mentally and physically breaking from my work schedule.

I could work all the time if I wanted to.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with work and I am happy to have my job.  I have a strong work ethic and get a lot of satisfaction from doing my job and doing it well.  But there comes a point when you need to recharge and you can’t do that if you are always working and always pushing yourself to do more work.

I find that working constantly starts to make me inefficient.  I start to get tired, I get headaches easily and I start to answer people in a short manner.   When I start experiencing those symptoms, I know it’s time to take a break and do some of the things that Anna Quindlen suggests in her quote above: pick up the phone, call a friend or a family member, write an email, connect with another person.I need to work to support myself financially but I also need to remember — especially during the holidays — to take a break and enjoy the treasures of my life.

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