Drudgery!

This has been one heck of a week. It has me thinking a lot about endurance, and getting to the end.

At times, despite my better intent to remain positive, sometimes life seems a bit like one obligation after another – just drudgery. Work, sleep, eat low-calorie food, workout, sleep, work… and so on. This feels especially true after being on vacation.

On the flip side of that, all segments of drudgery end. And that is my mantra for this month, I am sure it won’t be on bumper stickers any time soon, but there it is:

ALL SEGMENTS OF DRUDGERY END

Here are some examples to back up my catchy phrase…

(list 46) Examples of Drudgery Segments Ending

1. I have this huge project I have to get done by the end of the month. When I stop and think about everything I have to do I get quite overwhelmed – and am pretty sure I won’t get it done. But then I break it up into pieces, set my goal for the pieces. Suddenly I have stitched together enough pieces that it is done. I still have my moments of panic, but I focus on the one segment I am working on and save the others for worry for another day. Last night was an example of willing myself through the segment – I worked all day, walked to the gym, attended Zumba, did a mile on the elliptical, walked home. I then ate my baked potato and worked for another 1.5 hours. It was hard to get that work started, to sit and focus and get it done. But I got it done, leaving today to do another segment.

2. Speaking of Zumba, sometimes it is a lot of fun, sometimes it is treachery. I can’t figure out the difference, but it is probably related to how much the day has zapped from me. Last night it was hard. There were 7,893 things I would have rather be doing (a rough estimate), but I talked myself into going and participating in this goal. And I made it. I sweated copiously and kept saying to myself “Just get through this song.” And I did. And then suddenly it was the cool-down song. (I really like the cool-down song because it includes the ONE zumba dance step I can actually do – a cha-cha step-ball-change cross thingie.) And at that point I know I have survived the drudgery, could check it off my list.

3. Speaking of lists, that is what I like about my strength training classes with Mandy. Generally there is a list of exercises to do, and I check them off as I get them done. It gives me a sense of accomplishment towards the bigger goal of the session and prevents me from being a clock watcher.

4. Speaking of clock watching, I have a coworker who has a good way of dealing with boring meetings. He is working with my team to develop requirements for an online form (still awake?). Yea, the meetings are excruciatingly boring. But he always stops a few minutes before the end of the hour and lets us select trudging forward or rescheduling to finish another time. Looking towards the end of the hour always gets me through those. Actually, I should think about those meetings during my hour Zumba classes, because I may be exhausted and not able jump and shake my booty one more time, but at least it isn’t one of those requirements gathering meetings.

So, of course it is exaggeration to say that life is nothing but drudgery, just this week it feels like it… but there are lots of splendid things that break up the drudgery.

(list 47) Ways I Survive the Drudgery

1. Laughing. Whether at work or at the gym, I truly treasure the people who I can laugh with. For me, in life, there is little else than shared joy. Money, beauty, fame, power – nothing compares to sharing a laugh. In many ways, it is what I live for. And those people who make me laugh (or laugh at me) are my lifesaver. You know who you are, THANK YOU!!

2. Audio Books. I always have at least two books in the hopper, one I read before bed, and one I am listening to in the car. I have to drive a substantial amount of time to and fro work, so I count those audio books as “reading’. It isn’t the same experience as reading in the traditional sense, but it gives me the same escape. As soon as the voice clicks on, I stop thinking about everything I need to do or all the other worries. I get to focus on the story being told. It really transports me, and no matter how bad the day was, or how rough of a day is facing me, I can let go and listen. It makes me very happy.

3. NOT talking about work. Many years ago, when I was very caught up in my career and office politics and all of it, my friend Chris gave me great advice to not talk about work on my down time. I thought it was gibberish, but now I know exactly what he means. I have to fret about work a lot – at work, when I can’t sleep at night, the LAST thing I want to do is talk about it on my free time. It just allows it to be more a part of my life. And although I mostly like work, I want as much time as possible for other things. In a sense, NOT talking or thinking about work breaks up its drudgery.

4. Wodehouse. P.G. Wodehouse writes books that are the literary equivalent of Calgon. As Evelyn Waugh said of him, “Mr Wodehouse’s idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in.” True dat!

5. Walking. This one is a double-edged sword, because often I feel like I have to force myself to go walking. But when I do, I am so glad I did. The thing about walking is that you have to slow down. I try to do at least one leisurely walk a week. I can’t do anything else but put one foot in front of the other, and enjoy every small bit I can. Last night was a great example, I should have hurried home on my walk from the gym, but I took my time. I looked at all the gardens, smelled the summer night air, and took slow breaths. There are some things on my walk home from the gym that I love to see – there is a garden with the coolest fountain, another little rock garden with beautiful dianthus and yarrow, and a little miniature collie that always says “hello” in her very perky and adorable way. Last night I got a special treat and watched a few minutes of a slide show set to music that a man was doing in his garage, projecting on a big white sheet. He was glad to have me watch a bit, and I was glad to make a human connection, separate myself from the drudgery.

So, I guess the point of all of this is that there is always lots of work to do. Lots and lots and lots. Survive the work when it is unbearable, laugh a lot, and take some breaks! And,if that doesn’t work, have a cocktail.

Now, I must get back to work… sigh…

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