I was interviewing a candidate for hire the other day and there were a few questions she answered with the same quoted statement: “I like to keep a good work/ life balance”.  When further prodded to explain what that means to her she stated “I will work hard, overtime if offered, but I will do so in order that I can enjoy my play time away and travel.”

I thought to myself… “that is EXACTLY my opinion and desire as well.”

Looking back, it always has been- I just never put a tag or name on it. I blame it on my grandpa and father’s genes. You know; the “travel bug” that there is no vaccine for. I really don’t want to be cured from this bug- I’m nowhere near tired of it. In fact sometimes I welcome it, and perhaps even provoke it at maybe some more inopportune times than others.

My husband and I haven’t gotten away for more than a weekend in quite a few years though. Between surgeries, buildings, construction and everything else in the middle … it’s just very difficult as a self-employed individual to just “turn off work” and “shut down your brain”. There have been times all plans were in motion and something with the business or health has stopped him from going. This scenario is no where near the balanced live/work that I strive for, yet he can be ok with it. Most recently we canceled a trip to see our daughter because of winter weather advisories. This drove me NUTS!! My brain kept thinking about how I took 2 days vacation and was left having no exciting place to go or people to laugh with. I didn’t work 25 years to spend vacation time sitting at home binge-watching TV for 4 days. And then I realized… the shoe was on the other foot. I was the one that couldn’t turn myself OFF.

When we do get away there is usually some kind of learning or doing activity as a centerpiece. We love National Parks for their scenery as well as history. Museums are a hit too.  I hear of many couples and families that play at the beach or kick back poolside. This has never been our family. The closest we get to “relaxing” is maybe camping and even then I took my daughter to the lake or pool and my husband tended the campfire or fiddled around with something or other. Our trips on Amtrak were somewhat low-key, with the exception of the motion sickness across Kansas. In recent years I have spent a good quantity of vacation time working around the house painting, moving, packing, renovating etc.

So it is, just as in the pictures I chose, that the “work hard, play hard” statement becomes a dream and not a lifestyle. Some days I would love to lay basking in the sun on the beach with an umbrella drink in my hand and watching the sun set. Reality puts me on a scissors lift painting or prepping for an art show; great in themselves, but not the yin and yang intended for our spirit. Hiking is my replacement escape hatch. When I can’t spare the full day or week, I can squeeze in a few hours and bask in the sun or under the forest umbrella with a water bottle in hand.

What makes you keep balance in life and work? Do you get to play hard, or hardly play? I’d love to hear from any of your suggestions. They may not work for our lifestyle, but I would so enjoy living vicariously through your experiences, if you’d allow it!

~Postscript~ I need to add that even though my husband was unable to join me, I still cling to the saving grace of my extended family allowing me to tag-along or couch-surf with them over the course of these years.  I would have been out of my mind had I not been allowed to join them in seeing LOTS of Texas, Arkansas, Lake Tahoe, Northern Cali, Florida, Carolina’s and Oregon!

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