Thursday, January 20, 2011

Slow down you move too fast. You’ve got to make your mojo last….

I have a secret fantasy.

My family and I live on a hillside farm in Maine overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. We grow our own (organic!) veggies, have carefree and content chickens who lay golden eggs, and we pick fresh blueberries from our fields and juicy fruit from our trees. Somehow we have so much money that we don’t have to work, so our time is spent playing with our kids, cultivating our gardens, and dazzling each other with our creative, and of course, incredibly healthy, made-from-scratch meals. We do plenty of hiking, since it goes without saying that there are spectacular trails just outside our door. Our kayaks are kept in a boathouse at the water’s edge; so we spend lots of family time together as we sculpt our bodies into flawless works of art. We have fabulous neighbors, and a guest house big enough for our friends and family to visit often. Heck, they can even live there! We read all the time, have hour-long sit-down meals where we share witty stories, and only watch educational television. I check my email once a day, at which time I can devote my energy to responding brilliantly to my loved ones (since I don’t work, I only get emails from loved ones…)

Yep, that’s my fantasy. Here’s my reality:

My family and I live in a small, old house that is constantly undergoing renovations in an urban town in Northern New Jersey. We buy our (organic!) veggies at Whole Foods, and we pay handsomely to get our (organic!) blueberries from the freezer section. Somehow, we work all the time but still don’t have all the money that we need, so we work some more. Meals are healthy but made as quickly as possible, and I’m usually cooking while talking on the phone, and/or answering emails. Yes, the laptop frequently finds its way to my kitchen counter. There is a small park across the street from our house, and if we’re lucky we’ll take a walk there once a week at best. Our kayaks are kept underneath our deck, and have not seen a body of water since August. I do have fabulous neighbors, but we’re too busy to get together often. We don’t even have a guest room in our house, so visitors are treated to an air mattress in the living room. We read, but not as much as we’d like. We have sit-down meals that last for about ten minutes because it’s late and we just got home from martial arts. Although my kids don’t watch much television, they have probably seen every episode of icarly at least twice. I check my email every five minutes because if I don’t I can’t keep up with it, and I sleep next to my Blackberry.

Do you see the dichotomy here?

Truth is, my ideal reality is probably somewhere in between the two. As a classic over-achiever, the words balance and moderation don’t often enter my vocabulary, and therein lies the problem. It appears that I’m not alone.

One study shows that the average American works a 46-hour work week, and almost 40% work more than 50 hours per week. I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers were skewed. Maybe we spend that much time in our offices, but what about the time we spend at home in the evenings and weekends, on our laptops or our smart phones? I work from home, which is great because 1) I can work in my pajamas, 2) I never have to brush my hair, and 3) I am physically in the same house as my kids, even if I’m mentally pre-occupied. The problem with working from home, though, is that I NEVER leave the office. I am always here, accessible via phone or email. Weekends, nights, I even take my Blackberry with me into the bathroom. And we wonder where my mojo has gone?

So here it is, my fearless friends, my biggest challenge yet.

In order to find that elusive balance that I keep hearing people talk about, I vow to do the following:

1) I will not check my email in the middle of the night.

2) I will not check my email or answer the phone during dinnertime.

3) I will not work on the weekends.

4) I will not work on the weekends. (I had to repeat that; more for my benefit than yours.)

5) I will spend more time preparing, cooking, and enjoying mealtimes.

6) The kids and I will spend more time at the park across the street and less time parked in front of our computers.

Who wants to join me in this energy-seeking endeavor? Or do you have other spirit-sucking shtick that you'd like to change?

Whatever it is, I guarantee that if we combine these steps with our previous commitment to getting more exercise, watching less tv, and feeling more gratitude, we will be well on our way to mojo-mania!


  1. I'm joining you...and adding that I will not checking my email/phone in my "office" (aka bathroom). heh.

  2. Damn! I forgot to add that. Maybe I forgot to add that on purpose? Hmmm...

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  4. Count me in! My top priorities are the NO work on weekends and finding a way to separate work life from home life - despite working from home! Great post Ronni, keep em coming!

  5. All good ideas! Oops, gotta run, I just got an email...

  6. One thing I have learned after being in the same situation you are still in is to detach at dinner. Most of the time when I worked for the same organization I had the same experience, but I made sure that at dinner time I turned off my phone, set a place at the table, poured a glass of wine and enjoyed the food I had prepared while emailing or on conference calls. I made a conscious effort to sit and eat and read for a minimum of an hour. Now that my husband is back to working out of the house we still do this every evening.
    It's a lesson I learned the hard way and I have found that this break helps me sleep through the night and enjoy life a lot more.
    The girls will enjoy this time - I know that my children who live in New York enjoy their dinner each evening and destress.