It’s Monday morning – time to tell you how I unplugged over the weekend…

On the whole, it was good. Yes, I think I can honestly say I am getting better at this unplugging business…

Friday evening we tried a new (to us) neighborhood restaurant that turned out to be a tasty discovery. A successful experiment (with good drinks) was a great way to get the weekend off to a less than ordinary start. I’m glad we took a little risk. It set a nice tone for things to come.

Saturday began with my favorite – a trip to the river beach – followed by visiting neighborhood garage sales. No great finds, but always a curiosity and a great lazy Saturday thing to do. (Kudos to adult children who have to clean out their deceased parents’ homes, especially when those parents were savers – wow, do they have to cope with a lot of stuff.)

Then something possessed me to finish a framing project. One of those measure-twice-cut-once projects. Which turned out to be quite frustrating. And imperfect in its execution. But good enough. Good enough that I decided to tackle another measure-twice-cut-once project – finishing the roller blinds for the kitchen windows. Argh! Even less perfect. But probably also good enough once I get over myself. (I’ve since decided that a replenishing weekend does not include more than one of these sorts of things. All that measuring is a bit draining.)

Sunday began with coffee and the paper – which is how it should always start – followed by pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Later we got outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and walk off some of that bacon and ended up finding a trail we didn’t know existed – near the amusement park where we were reminded that we haven’t yet ridden the ferris wheel this summer. Which would be a good thing to do next weekend.

Which brings me back around to where I was this time last week.

This time last week I was making a little list of what I wanted from the coming weekend. I wanted my weekend to be:

  • free from the sense that I owe anyone anything
  • free from feeling sick of writing
  • free from arm pain
  • free from domestic chores
  • free from exhaustion
  • free from the ordinary

And I asserted that it was doable if I just focused on what I needed to do during the week to make all the free-from happen.

So – you may be wondering – how’d it go?

Free from the sense that I owe anyone anything…
Did I finish all I had said yes to? Not quite, but I did enter my weekend guilt-free. I did empty my inbox. I didn’t take on anything new. And, as anticipated, this required minimizing distractions throughout the week and a final focused push on Friday. It helped to have started the week with such a clear idea of what needed doing. Maintaining that clarity throughout the week was also crucial. Focus! Focus! Focus!

Free from feeling sick of writing…
Well, I didn’t experience waves of not another essay! so whatever clarity I established at the beginning of the week must have helped with this… although I didn’t address it directly. Maybe just chunking things down into manageable what-I-can-actually-do-this-week portions helped me not feel disgusted by my own overwhelm with words.

Free from arm pain…
Not quite. It’s lingering. I was reminded it really does take all evenings and two consecutive days off the computer (and no laptop time) to make things better. So I wasn’t free from arm pain on Friday, but I’m darn close to it this morning. Yay. Here’s to not regressing this week. [A favorite new element of my closing ritual: washing my wrist brace. Highly symbolic.]

Free from domestic chores…
This was a big success. I was easily able to sneak them in during the week. Grocery shopping happened one evening after dinner. Vacuuming was a midday de-stresser after completing a frustrating project. I tossed in a load of laundry while I ran a computer repair utility. I wiped down the bathroom while I ran another. Easy peasy. [Okay, true confessions: to be completely free I had to finish folding and ironing clothes Friday night, but that sure beat feeling pressured to do it last night.] This created almost more space than I knew what to do with. Which was an awesome problem to have.

Free from exhaustion…
Tired, but in a good way. A job-well-done way. Not a can’t-keep-my-eyes-open way. Not a too-many-times-around-on-the-hamster-wheel-of-my-mind way. Again, a result of the focus.

Free from the ordinary…
I’m loving thinking of my weekend as I would a vacation. But it’s trickier than it would seem at first glance. I’m still so focused on making a graceful exit from my week that adding this element still feels awkward. I’m assuming it’s just a matter of practice.

Because each week my opening and closing rituals become a little more refined. Each week I understand a little more about being intentional, creating space, feeling free, and knowing what is restorative. Each week I remember a little more about how to play. Each week I learn a few more of the elements essential to making a smooth transition from work to play.

Things have to be clean: empty inbox, no unanswered comments or tweets, no to-be-read-later tabs open in my browsers, tidied desktops real and virtual, a clutter-free house – even me showered.

Things have to be ready: clean covers most of this, but my daily sheets also need to be printed for the coming week and my to-do list reviewed and reordered. Clean and ready are the solutions to guilt and worry.

Things have to be celebrated: there has be a moment for reflection and appreciation – on tasks completed, lessons learned, connections made, gratitude felt. This is not to be rushed.

Things have to be anticipated: part of the preparation needs to include planning how to make the weekend feel special, how to incorporate a few of the little “extras” that are so replenishing. Not only does this keep the weekend from falling back into the ordinary, it turns out to be an important part of what  pulls me forward on Friday. Which means I need to give it attention before Friday.

So, as I think about what I want to feel at the end of this week, I want to feel free from all the same things I did last week and I want to feel a sense of excitement – not just a sense of relief, of whew!, but of anticipation.

Let’s see what happens by adding this new layer of intent…

• • • • •

How do you want to end your week? How would you like to feel? What do you want for your weekend?

• • • • •


8 Responses to “Anticipation”

  1. 1 Susan aka Miss R August 17, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Great post with incredible insight for yourself and others. I just love the idea of thinking about my weekend as a vacation since for the past year the lines between workplaypersonallife haven’t been there and need to be created and honored. Glad to see I’m not alone in my struggle to achieve this!

    • 2 Cairene August 18, 2009 at 9:48 am

      @Susan –
      The tricky thing about boundaries is wanting to have a whole, integrated life, but without everything spilling into everything else (like working all the time). So for me the lines are more like guidelines, the edges of containers, but still with a little room for slosh. :)

      And thinking about the weekend just gets more fun as you get the hang of it. Play on! -C

  2. 3 Christine Martell August 18, 2009 at 8:44 am

    This is so radical. I’m watching with fascination, the kind of attention one might use to study an anthill, or any other complex system. Is it really possible? And if she can do it, would it be possible for me? Still in the realm of outrageous thought, but its shifting.

    • 4 Cairene August 18, 2009 at 9:44 am

      Ha! weekends off = radical. What have we come to? ;-)
      I do believe it *is* possible. And based on what’s happening in our little Never on a Sunday group, I’d say it’s possible for everyone.
      Here’s to shifting! -C

  3. 5 Bullwinkle August 18, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I’ve begun tele-working on Mondays. Today (Tuesday) on the morning walk with Dude and Dog, I said: “this teleworking thing isn’t working. I get up on Tuesday thinking of all the stuff that has to be done (around the house) before next weekend.” And Dude said: “(Teleworking) works just great. You used to do that on Monday.”

    Now I just have a shorter time to fret.

    This concept of having weekends off is (apparently) seeping in slowly. Thank you. (I am having a little trouble getting focused on Monday a.m. (possibly because I’m home and not at work, and I haven’t knit on the train for 1/2 hour getting my thoughts together (omg – that was a realization as I’m typing! Thankyou!) I’m going to try more intentional “readying” on Friday afternoon as I’m clearing for the weekend.)

    • 6 Cairene August 18, 2009 at 11:40 am

      @Bullwinkle –
      It’s all about transitions. And being intentional about them. Give yourself a specific time and place to figure out the house stuff (like the half hour on the train – yay for realizations!). Your brain is just trying to help you out – so let it. Then it won’t have to fret while you’re trying to enjoy your morning walk. Or your weekend. :) C

  4. 7 Sarah Bray August 18, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I definitely get caught in the “too many times around the hamster wheel of my mind” trap. It’s hard to turn off at the end of the week.

    I’m really inspired by your commitment to a good solid rest. Sometimes I think it’s impossible. I love to work. I’m addicted to work. So it’s hard to find a replacement activity.

    I went to the pool with my family today, though (during work hours!). It was wonderful. I think I laughed for two straight hours. So maybe it is possible to make the separation. It’s certainly worth it to try.

    • 8 Cairene August 19, 2009 at 7:58 am

      The “turning off” is what’s taking so much practice – because it is hard. I’m having to invent all kinds of tools and rituals to help me with that. But it’s turning out not to be impossible.

      It seems to me there’s a difference between feeling addicted to your work and loving your work. The one is about fear and the other is about, well, love. It’s okay to love your job. And I don’t believe in “work/life balance” because who says it’s 50/50 for everyone? There is a right ratio for you.

      But I’m guessing laughing for two hours at the pool with your family (which sounds sooo delicious, btw) changed how you returned to that work you love. Maybe took the edge off the fearful compulsion and reminded you of the joy? Gave your brain a break? Restored some perspective? All of which perhaps made the work better in many ways? That’s why we need the R&R…

      And I think you’re right in intuiting that you need to have “replacement activities” that match the level of love you feel for your work – otherwise work is always going to seem more fun. That’s where the notion of “balance” might be useful – not quantity, but quality.

      Best to you in continuing to try! -C

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Third Hand Works

from overwhelmed to ready for anything | organization and time management for people in their "right" minds | administrative guidance for independent creative professionals [more info]



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