working for the weekend

Monday, September 18, 2017
Image may contain: food
Making time for more meals around a table ... // Copyright:
As someone who trudges into an office space Monday through Friday, with work travel frequently blurring into my weekends, I place an extremely high value on my "free" time. But let's be honest, those glorious hours when we're off of work are hardly "free."

Between rummaging through the refrigerator for dinner inspiration, running errands and squeezing in a bit of time to binge watch my current Netflix obsession, there's barely time left to sum up the energy for our closest friends, let alone broader social circles.

And more than anything, I try to avoid those commitments that you squeeze in partially out of guilt and partially because you just want so badly to enjoy the company of great people. Because when it comes down to it, anytime that I'm trying to force fun, it just doesn't work. Forced fun makes me grumpy.

But relaxed, laughter-filled, wine-and-cheese-induced fun... now that's rich. That is the sort of stuff that feeds my soul in the most satisfying way.

Last year, one of my wise friends gifted me Shauna Niequist's book Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes and it sparked the tiniest fire within me. It took that anxious "I can't cook a damn thing" attitude and turned it upside down, smacked a smile on it and patted it on the back. It taught me that what's important - people and warm, cozy food and candles and a bottle of red wine - are really all that you need. Nothing fancy. Not even matching place settings.

And with that, it all became clear. My desire not only to accept more invitations, but to extend more invitations, became not only easier - but critical. Part of slowing down in my life meant intentionally carving out precious space for family and friends and then creating a comfortable and inviting space for it.

In his TED talk, "What Makes a Good Life?," Robert Waldinger digs into data gleaned from the longest study on happiness to date. Study participants - now in their nineties - continue to prove that what matters most is not career or money, it's strong and connective relationships, and the ability to maintain and nurture them.

And for those of us who fall into the that's great but I really, really don't have the time category, I found an incredibly interesting nugget of information in the recent New York Times' article, "You Don't Need More Free Time," which politely bashes the notion that you just need an extra hour in your day. Even if you were somehow granted your existing income without having to work for it throughout the week, you would still reach your optimum well-being during the weekend, it surmises. That's because everyone yearns to experience life with others, and in the "real world," most folks are trudging their way through the work week.

Balancing the quiet and calm of time spent solo with purposeful and powerful interactions among my favorite people is my current sweet spot. It's a goal that I've set for myself, and that I'm having a blast attempting to achieve.

Has a book or movie triggered you to re-evaluate your daily life?


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