3 Months, 2 Jobs, 1 Anita: It’s all about balance

Hi y’all (see, I’m learning the lingo! jk, I’ve said y’all for a long time šŸ™‚ )

My friend John has written and spoken about the different stages of crisis when trying out new things: there’s the “3 day crisis,” the “3 week crisis,” and the “3 month crisis.” I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been experiencing the last one for almost the entire duration of the 3rd month here in Nashville. We are hitting our 3 month mark of being in the house tomorrow, 10/29, but my mini-crises have been occurring fairly regularly throughout the past several weeks.

Man, October is a hard month. I’ve always loved October because it’s so beautiful with the changing leaves, that expectant chill that permeates the air as the weeks go on, and the ever-growing appreciation for the waning sunny days. Michigan’s October is gorgeous as the leaves hit their peak, Ohio’s follows suit, but Tennessee has been a bit lagging…but I keep telling myself that those gingko trees WILL turn bright yellow and that I will get a chance to jump in some leaves sooner or later. Thank you, Lord, for the seasons.

I’m working two jobs here. This post is definitely not meant to complain about having too much work (far from it), but it is me exploring what it means to live in solidarity with lower-working-class folks, at least more than I did during college. I love both of my jobs, and I would score myself quite high on the “job satisfaction” index. At one site, I get to work with kids, to be outside learning about gardening, and creating environmental education opportunities. Love it. At the other site, I get to explore the relationship of environmental justice and spirituality and think critically about how religious liturgy can inspire and motivate people to be active proponents of justice in their communities, religious and nonreligious. Love it.

But it’s hard to achieve a good work-house-life balance. Am I spending too much time working at one job over the other? Do I have any time for me?

But, through recent conversations with my housemates, I need to think more about boundaries. Boundaries are not just to keep me from doing things that IĀ don’t want to do, but also to help me be able to do what IĀ doĀ want to be doing. BoundariesĀ help me achieve balance regarding time; physical, mental, and emotional space; and relationships. I’m a work in progress.

I am used to being busy. I get a rush out of being busy, actually. Feeling useful and seeing myself accomplish tasks (is there really anything better than crossing something off a to-do list? doubt it) are favorites of mine. But when I cross the line into beingĀ too busy, I lose sight of things that matter more than my job (yes, those things exist; they’re called “personal space” and “self-care”). And as one of my dear housemates said to me: “Isn’t this year supposed to be about caring for yourself and your learning? Aren’t you defeating the purpose if you are stressed all the time and are never feeling grounded?” Yes, Jaime. Too true.

3 months in.

  1. I’m homesick like nobody’s business. I haven’t seen my family’s faces in over 3 months, since they were gone before I left for Tennessee in July.
  2. Money is tight. But guess what, Anita? You signed up for this. What level of spending each month is appropriate for the amount of my paychecks? How do I save money?Ā What do I define as “having enough”?Ā I can only say that I have the utmost respect for the millions of people all over the world who work far more than 40 hours a week, who never have time to spend in their home (if they have one) or with their families, who will never have enough in a savings account to feel secure buying that one extra little thing they’ve been wanting, and whose life situations require that they live paycheck to paycheck and save coupons and pinch pennies wherever they can. ManyĀ parents of students I teach are in some of these situations, and I feel for them deeply. I view my commitment to live as much within my paychecks as possible as an act of solidarity with folks whose income falls far under the poverty line. Yes, I have my car, auto insurance, health insurance, and a warm place to sleep. But I have committed to a different lifestyle than I am used to,Ā and I am doing my best to live into the challenge of economic solidarity.
  3. Living community is hard. Like, really hard. I’m struggling to a) know myself, b) be comfortable enough with myself to share the ‘real me’ with my housemates, c) get to know my housemates enough where I can live as respectfully as possible with them, d) get enough group time in, e) get enough Anita time in, and f) get enough God time in.
  4. Oh, and conflict (haha yeah, who deals with conflict well? Answer: NOT. ME.) I’m really trying to know my conflict style and my housemates conflict style well enough to be proactive and work things out. But it’s hard. My self-perceptions always get in my way. I worry my housemates don’t like me (ok, I know that’s irrational…{:P). I want people to be happy, many times at the sacrifice of my own personal wants and needs. I try to see it all as a growing edge that I’m working on.
  5. Future plans are stressful. Read: grad school, $$$, applications, $$$, relationships, geography, $$$…it feels like too much for me sometimes.

Good things happen all the time. God is good, really good, and many times I want to shout about it. I have so many blessings in my life, in the form of family and friends and opportunities, and I am ever grateful for the privilege to experience these things. But as all of these things swirl around in my brain, it’s hard to get quiet enough to hear God speaking to me. Sometimes it’s more of a whisper than a whirlwind.

If you are a praying person,Ā send some prayers for me to be able to quiet myself enough to hear what my heart wants and what God is leading me towards. If you are not a praying person, just give a hug to the universe and I’ll let you know when I get it. šŸ™‚

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