Whine with my wine

by Lady Di

Hey Lady,

Tonight over the dinner table I was commiserating with my husband about time. Specifically, the time stress we experience in our lives. We both have demanding careers and two young children. Combined with running a household and extended family obligations we often feel as though there are not enough hours in the day (especially for working on new, interesting, and engaging blogs!).

Time has become one of our most precious commodities and we are not alone. Time studies reveal that many people would easily give up a day of work and consequently, pay, for an extra day off. There is a major gender difference in how men and women would spend that time, but that’s a difference post, which I have tentatively titled the ‘Stalled Revolution’. In this post, I need to vent about time, or my lack of it.

To go back to the dinner table, I was discussing our blog and how I wish I could create more time to work on it. I know many Canadians would empathize with my situation – Linda Duxbury’s research demonstrates that Canada is becoming a world leader in work intensification. That is, even if people are not working longer hours (but many people are, according to Ipsos-Reid survey data, the average work week in Canada is now almost 48 hours) they are working at a pace they perceive hard to keep up with. Work intensification has major implications for work-life balance and consequently, quality of life.

As a female academic and a mum I struggle to achieve work-life balance on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis.  I clock way more than 48 hours per week. And, I often feel torn (physically and emotionally) between my family obligations and my career aspirations. When I make time to read interesting feminist blogs about life in academe (such as Hook and Eye) I know I am not alone. Indeed, when I chat with others in my position, I realize I am not the only one who starts the day at 6 am (at the gym) and ends it 11pm (at my desk) with a whole lot of action in between. There are many people who juggle two demanding careers, childcare/eldercare, and daily life.

At times like this, I am reminded of Carl Honore’s book In Praise of Slow. I swear sometimes I can actually hear him in my ear challenging me to resist the cult of speed in today’s society and to take pleasure in small moments.  And often I achieve this goal. But, at the end of the day, my life is very, very full. And at times, that zaps my creativity or analytical skills, or intellectual capacity, which bums me out.

I say all this recognizing this blog is no longer the sandbox for us ladies that it started out to be, but I just couldn’t resist a little whine with my wine tonight. Thanks for indulging me.

Your friend,

Lady Di

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9 Comments to “Whine with my wine”

  1. Share all of these thoughts and moods and I sympathize, My life is too full of too many activities and people I love and I often feel torn. But when I try to cheer myself up about this, I remind myself that it’s only because there is so much in life that I love and enjoy that I’m torn, And this is a luxury, the kind of life that not very many people get to enjoy. Think about our jobs. I love both teaching and research and often feel torn. I also like academic administration. And I can’t excel at all three. Ditto some of my favourite physical activities. I can’t perform at my best if I do them all, Ditto the people I love. I want more time with all of them. And time alone to read fiction, and walk the dog, and.blog and see movies and theatre and live music and…..But this just is the curse of loving too many things/too many people in our very short lives! It’s because we do so many things we love that we have this problem. I’m not even sure that taking away full time paid work would help! Now an extra two or three hundred years, that might help a bit.

    • I agree 100%. I love my job, my home, my family and friends, my hobbies. But I still manage to feel tired and discouraged a lot of the time. I don’t remember feeling so beaten down back in my waitressing days. But then, I was in my 20s at that time. Perhaps I was a little more resilient then?

  2. Hey, Lady!

    I hear ya! I feel exhausted all the time, and I think you do more than I do.

    I was glad you mentioned Hook and Eye. I haven’t been there for a couple of weeks. Your mention sent me there, where I found this post (http://www.hookandeye.ca/2012/02/sweet-spot-to-be-cranky.html) urging associate professors to use the “sweet spot” they occupy — tenured, but not yet bogged down with service — to fight battles for more junior and vulnerable colleagues.

    I agree, and I was happy to see the post. But, it also made me even more tired to think of all the battles ahead. I’ll be tenured in July (so, I’m more or less tenured now — safe enough in my job to be cranky on behalf of more vulnerable colleagues), but I can’t remember a time since part-way through grad school when I wasn’t bearing a big service load, and where much of that load wasn’t of the fighting-battles-for-those-who-can’t variety.

    It’s just about 10 p.m. and I’m still marking the papers that I should have returned yesterday because I’ve had two unanticipated “equity battles” to fight in the last week.

    So, I’m ready for a little whine too. (And, some wine couldn’t hurt.)

    Your friend,

    Lady Day

  3. Two books that seem particularly relevant (and have been helpful for me) are: Juliet Schor’s “The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure” (and really, all of her books are awesome), and Tim Ferriss’s “The 4-hour Workweek” (ignore the “start your own business” motivation).

    Tim’s book was really helpful in realizing where and how much time I can waste. It’s sometimes little things like checking e-mail 20 times a day (i.e., when it comes in) rather than twice/day at pre-set times. Making some small changes freed up a lot of time for me.

    • I really like Juliet Schor’s work too and use it in my classes. If you are interested, she is profiled in the documentary “Running out of Time” discussing her book The Overworked American. It was made in the 90s so is a little dated now, but the ideas are (sadly) still relevant. Linda Duxbury takes up some similar idea from a Canadian perspective. Thanks for your comment.

  4. But if it’s really ‘too much of a good thing’ and hard to choose between good things, then why discouraged? Maybe each one requires more to reach some base level of satisfaction and you can’t do it all? I think it’s winter. Too dark to be happy.

  5. Second the Ferris recommendation! Ignore the self-promotion/hype stuff…he’s got some good ideas,

  6. Hey, Lady!

    A final note as I toddle off to bed with all my papers now at last returned: It’s Leap Day!

    I don’t remember whether, in past leap years, folks were recommending that we all take Leap Day as a freebie — as a day that doesn’t really belong in the calendar and so need not be tallied with the others. But, this year, I’m hearing that approach in all corners — from last week’s 30 Rock Leap Day “special” to this NPR article on how best to use this “found time” (http://www.npr.org/2012/02/28/147591281/time-suck-how-to-spend-the-24-hours-of-leap-day?live=1). The Huffington Post reports that 17% of survey respondents plan to take Leap Day off as a “personal day.” And, elsewhere in the blogosphere, the Happy Hermit recommends that in particular those people who claim to have no time (ring any bells?) take advantage of this gift of a day (http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/an-extra-day-29-february-2012/).

    So, whaddya think? Shall we cancel all of tomorrow’s meetings and tell the kids to feed themselves so that we can tick off items on our bucket lists? I’m in if you are. 😉

    Your friend,
    Lady Day

  7. Hey Lady!

    What an awesome idea! Too bad I read this message after I had fed my kids, have one off to school and am on my way to drop the other off at preschool. Plus, I have two important equity related meetings set up for today. BUT, next leap year for sure! We have a date.

    Your friend,
    Lady Di

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