I ran away from my life and came back calmer

August 20, 2010

I didn’t realize it had been the entire summer since I blogged. Shame on me. Ah well, we do the best we can, right? I’ll try to turn over a new leaf and blog more now that back to school is in sight.

I had a stressful summer. My half-time job has really ramped up, and the stress levels with it. I’m only supposed to put in two days in their offices, but it’s been at least three nearly every day this summer, and there is so much going on, I spend hours every weekend dealing with stuff.

And then there are the boys. My kids are adorable and loveable and I really enjoy them — some of the time. But there have been a lot of points this summer when I thought I would lose my mind, when I wanted to crawl into a hole, and I’m not ashamed to admit, when they drove me to tears. The worst was a two-week period when hubby went away. One or other of my kids was sick the whole time, which of course means extra whiny and hard to deal with. And both were cranky and ill-behaved. I thought our two weeks without dad would be extra fun, but instead when he fianlly came back I was burned out. Work didn’t help, of course (see above).

Anyhow, we had set aside a week for a family driving holiday, but hubby was jetlagged and behind at work and frankly, I wasn’t up to it. So we went away as a family for a weekend, and then on one week’s notice, I booked myself a getaway.

I knew I wanted something calming, and while I wanted to go alone, I didn’t want to be by myself. So I decided a tour group would be ideal, and something mildly athletic seemed the ticket. I found a wonderful kayaking trip with a cancellation in the week I wanted, and just like that, booked it. There were not-terribly-expensive flights to the island town that the tour went out of, and the tour company takes care of nearly everything. So I spent six days on Northern Vancouver Island and four days kayaking on Johnstone Strait.

I loved it. The people were nice but I had lots of time to myself. The campsite was lovely and we even had a hot tub overlooking the ocean. We saw whales (Orcas and humpback), a bear, seals, dolphins, porpoises, sea stars, anemones, and lots more I’m forgetting. The paddling was pretty easy, and I seemed to be one of the stronger paddlers anyhow. The whole experience was lovely and I felt so calm and under-stimulated (in a good way) while I was there.

While I thought the best part would be escaping my family, it turned out that the very best part was escaping work. There is no cell service where I was, so for six days, I was cut off and maintained radio silence. And you know what — nothing happened. The world went on without me, nothing bad happened, no clients quit or got mad. Sure, my kids didn’t see a vegetable the whole time that wasn’t covered with ketchup, and even they said they were tired of watching tv while in daddy’s care, they were all in one piece when I got back.

For five days after I returned I didn’t even yell at my kids. Of course, on the sixth day I did, and work is starting to stress me out again. But I try to recapture the calm I felt as often as I can.

Running away was the best thing I ever did for myself. I don’t know why I haven’t done it sooner. Where shall I run to next year?


Is it really a vacation if you take your laptop?

May 31, 2010

As I draft this, I’m on holiday. We are taking our annual trip to the island to enjoy an extended weekend at the seaside. And as usual, the weather sucks. We come here every year (my mother-in-law owns a cabin we get to pull out of the rental pool once a year before high season), and while we love it here, we almost always get so-so or bad weather. It’s not that the weather is bad here, it’s usually absolutely gorgeous. Just rarely the weekends we come. This year it’s raining and cool. Whoopee.

But we’re away, and that in itself is nice. It took us a ferry ride to get here (and thanks to bad planning, a two-hour wait for the next ferry when we missed our reserved ferry by 15 minutes), but the kids were in okay moods and I managed to feel a bit relaxed en route. Yet now I’m on my laptop, following up with work stuff, checking in with the baseball team I coach, and drafting blog entries to post next week. So is it a vacation if I fail to unplug?

I often with I had one of those careers or jobs where I could walk away for a week or two and not have it all fall apart without me. But I’m a consultant, and if I’m not in touch, I could easily have no work, or at least, no income. Plus, I think I’m just one of those type-a people who needs to stay on top of things, even if I’m not doing much work. I want to know that I’m not missing anything.

I have unplugged before. I turned off my email and didn’t even check it for five days when we went to Mexico. And our lakeside cabin last summer had no internet or cell service, so I didn’t have any emails for five days that holiday. And of course I survived, and so did my business. But I don’t know if it made me any more relaxed.

Taking a long weekend right now necessitates having my laptop to follow up on some work. It’s the only way I could get away. And I’m lucky that my work is this portable. Besides, having my laptop means the kids can play games, we can watch movies and listen to music, and I can get some writing in. Those are all things that help relax me.

Yeah, I’m justified staying plugged in, and it’s not all about work. Let’s go with that.

Tomorrow I’ll try to avoid the laptop and spend more time walking on the gorgeous beach. If the rain stops.

All baseball, all the time

May 17, 2010

I feel like my whole life lately is about baseball. Okay, there’s work in there too, but outside of work, it’s all baseball.

I coach my nine-year-old’s little league team. We are playing (I think I can say “we” as the coach, can’t I?) at a higher level this year, where the kids pitch, they can steal bases, and they practice a lot. In fact, between games and practices, we have baseball 4-5 times a week. Every week. For nine weeks!

And my son is a pretty good ball player, and he’s one of our team’s pitchers. But he needs to work at it, and practice. And that means I’m expected to find extra time at home to practice with him. But I have no extra time these days, mostly because of his baseball schedule!

We took a weekend away recently. It was fun, but not especially relaxing. And where did we go? To Seattle, to watch a Mariners Major League Baseball game.

I’m also trying to organize an outing for a large group of kids and adults. Where to, you ask? Why, to a baseball game to watch the Vancouver Canadians!

At least this week it looks like I have an evening to myself. And how will I spend it? I’ve been asked to sub for an adult team’s softball team. So yup, night off and I’ll be playing — you guessed it — baseball.

Good thing I like baseball.

I am now an Olympic booster — or how I met two skating superstars in one day

February 19, 2010

The view from our seats as Patrick Chan skates

I admit to being a bit cynical about the Olympics taking place in my backyard. I’ve never been much for crowds, and as the mom of two young kids, late night concerts and parties don’t mean much to me. Yes, we had won the lottery and have tickets to two hockey games this weekend — one men and one women — to which we’re taking the kids. But I wasn’t all that keen on joining the throngs crowding downtown. But all that changed for me on Tuesday.

The other tickets we’d gotten were two of the cheap ($250!) seats for figure skating, for Men’s Short program. My friend bought my second ticket, as hubby is not interested in skating and I’m not interested in spending that kind of money on one of my young kids. And going to that event Tuesday has totally changed my perspective.

First, the ride there. The boys have been getting excited about trading Olympic pins, ever since we got started on Granville Island last weekend. So I wore a few pins on my scarf and approached a few people for trades on the bus. And got some great ones! Then, as we were riding on the second bus that would take us to the Coliseum, the driver was calling for people to move to the back of the bus, but a man was blocking the aisle. Turns out he was signing autographs, because ELVIS STOJKO WAS ON THE BUS!!

Me & Elvis

He got pushed to the back and we followed. He was so nice and gracious, and singed my ticket, and let me take this photo.

And then for the entire ride there, on a public bus, Elvis held court and answered everyone’s questions, talking about what he’s up to now, and giving us commentary on the competitors we were about to see. It was an amazing experience. My friend joked that maybe Elizabeth Manley would be on our bus back.

Then we got off the bus, and even though we had to walk about 2 km around the PNE to get to the Colliseum, no one complained. Security was no big deal, there was live entertainment as we walked, and everyone — everyone!! — was happy.

Our seats were very high up, but we could see, and it was fine. The energy was wonderful. Yes, the food was expensive, but not horribly so, and there were healthy choices. Yes, there were lines for food and washrooms, but they were moving very quickly, so no problem.

Me & Liz

The skating was lovely and exciting, and we really enjoyed being there. And then I went to use the washroom. As I was exiting to wash my hands, a woman came in the exit and asked if she could cut in line as she was on t.v. I didn’t  see her at first, but washed my hands slowly so I could see who it was when she came out. And incredibly, it was Elizabeth Manley, and she let me take her photo.

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d get into this, but now I totally am. Go to an event — there are tickets on sale at the box office at the venue. It’s really worth it. And who knows who you’ll meet!

Working on a Sunday

January 25, 2010

It’s a quiet day around my house today, with the boys buried in books and toys. Since I rarely get time alone at home anymore where I’m not swamped with work, I thought about hanging out, watching tv, reading a book. But what did I do instead? I worked.

Yes, I sent a proposal to a new client, wrote a blog entry and letter to the editor for another, and even did a phone interview for a third. Am I a work-a-holic?

Possibly, although I’d prefer to think that having done these assignments today, I’ll have a bit of spare time during the workweek. Time when I’ll be the only home, when I won’t be overwhelmed with work and can take an extended lunch hour. To read, watch tv, or exercise.

Sounds good. Wonder if I’d follow through…

I love the mini luxury of a pedicure

January 11, 2010

I am not a spa person, much. I’m not one for facials, and manicures are wasted on me, as I scrape the polish within the first two days. But give me a pedicure, and I’m yours for life. Well, maybe just for the day. Still.

I had my first pedicure when I was pregnant. A friend suggested it when I was complaining about not being able to bend over and hence unable to even cut my own toenails (cut, heck, I could barely see my toes!). And I was hooked.

I used to go in for the really deluxe pedicures, the expensive ones with the hot wax treatment and the hour long foot massage (well, it felt like an hour!). But budgets being what they are, I’ve now found a cheaper option that I can access more frequently. You know those nail bars that have popped up on every corner? They do wonderful pedicures for about $35, which means I can get one every month. And it’s a little me time that I really need.

I had a pedicure last weekend, and invited a friend. It was lovely to have a chance for us to catch up, as we never get time to see each other. And while we chatted, a wonderful esthetician cleaned my feet, shaped my nails and rubbed my legs. And we got to sit in comfy massage chairs and soak our feet in hot soapy water. To me, this was an hour of heaven.

Just one hour, mind you. Then I had to go home and make dinner.

I want a sick day

December 2, 2009

I’m ill. Not H1N1 ill, but I am congested, tired, my nose and head feel heavy and all I want to do is lie down.

But that is not to be for this mommy/consultant. Children need to be fed and sent off to school, soccer, swimming. bed and the like. Client deadline demand I keep working, and my part time job demands that I go into the office. I spend most of my day alone in my office anyhow, so it’s not like I’m infecting others. But I really want a sick day.

I want to stay home and do nothing but lie on the couch and watch soap operas (are they still on anymore?). I want someone else to bring me chicken noodle soup and books to read. I want someone to take care of me.

But no, today I’m at the office, after getting the boys ready for school early, dropping them off then busing here. Then after work I have a training session I must attend for a client. If I’m lucky I’ll be home before 9. And tomorrow doesn’t seem like a day I can take off either.

Sometimes being a self-employed mommy stinks.