Sunday, February 4, 2018

Feeling the press

I posted a couple of weeks ago about how busy first term was looking for me.

Since then, as events have further unfolded, I've realised that the extreme busyness actually runs all the way through til July.

As well as being fulltime-load booked for work, there will be:
- at least three, more likely four, interstate business trips;
- publishing and launching my first book (a poetry collection called She Said: Women of Story);
- two big kid birthday extravaganzas;
- the massive Japan trip (just under 4 weeks) and a probable week trip to Brisbane;
- several special events already locked and loaded;
- extended family commitments ramping up; and
- all the usual stuff of life with kids - school, house, extracurriculars etc.

On one level, I am excited for this. Almost all of the things are good things, including the work - the projects I have in train are all interesting and challenging in a good way, and I am lucky enough to be working with excellent people in each one.

There is another part of me, however, that is gut-clenchingly nervous about the prospect of no real sustained downtime for at least 5 months. (Obviously I will still manage a few afternoons off or Sunday naps, but I am talking about multiple days in a row free of commitments).

For this reason I am contemplating doing something I haven't done since leaving my last salaried job in June 2015 - scheduling a week off during termtime for me to have some relaxation and recovery time. At this stage, it looks like August might provide such an opportunity as all my projects will be in business as usual phase by then rather than high pressure deadline phase. (Of course this could change with time though).

I am going to try to pencil in a week in middish August for this purpose and will really do my best to stick to it. I think I will fully need it by then.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Villanelle for 26 January 2018 (Poem)

I always do a bitter-ish villanelle for 26 January, reflecting on the ills of Australia. I started doing them in around 2012 from memory and I always post them.

You can see previous efforts here:
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017

This year's one is concerned mostly with my conviction that changing the date of Australia Day is the first and minimally decent thing this country could do to stop hiding from the reality that 26 January celebrates the beginning of indigenous dispossession and genocide, rather than anything to be actually proud about.

A Villanelle for 26 January 2018

A nation’s day that celebrates a start
of sorts: the first day of the end;
Blood on the ground, the country’s aching heart.

Denialism is its own dark art
Without owning, nothing here can mend;
A nation’s day that celebrates a start.

And rejection of all others is a part
of the same ill mind that never makes amend
Blood on the ground, the country’s aching heart.

Fireworks and sausages impart
a triumph, sickly-rooted, of whitewash trend;
A nation’s day that celebrates a start.

There might not even be a way to chart
a better way; but at least let’s not pretend.
Blood on the ground, the country’s aching heart.

The truth is stranger, deeper, and more tart
than the fairytales that old white men send.
A nation’s day that celebrates a start,
Blood on the ground, the country’s aching heart.

Monday, January 22, 2018

This month in review, this quarter in view

Last year, for a few months, I was doing review / in view posts here. I started off doing them weekly in March, then later dropped to fortnightly and then 4-weekly, before abandoning them altogether in November as end-of-year shenanigans took hold.

I did find them a useful, albeit unsustainable, exercise for most of the time I was doing them. It helped me to get a bit of perspective on my life and activities balance, and gave me a bit of a boost in weeks that I felt I wasn't achieving anything (counting your tasks can have the same effect as counting your blessings in that regard!) I plan to sporadically do a similar thing this year, but I'm not going to commit to a particular schedule, as that gets a bit difficult to sustain.

As the New Year is no longer brand-spanking new, though, I thought I'd do a little overview of how our summer has gone so far (I date "summer" for this purpose as being from Boxing Day onwards) and the big-ticket items coming up between now and the end of term one (Good Friday).

The summer has been quite a good one. It has not been the height of excitement or indeed relaxation (we haven't gone away anywhere big, although we have done day trips and fun things) and I have been back working from home since 8 January, so that has not been completely challenge-free, but it has still been a positive month overall.

This first term looks frankly monstrous with work commitment levels, but I am hoping to get through it intact. I am trying very hard to plan for a scaling down from term two onwards, to recalibrate my business commitments in the second half of the year to be never more than 4, and preferably 3 - 3.5, days a week (rather than the 5-6 I could easily fill now - only having the kids home, and one unexpected migraine that kicked out most of a planned work day, has stopped me working full weeks since 8 January). This will partly be achievable by developing more formal subcontracting relationships and really using others' expertise.

As indicated below, despite how busy I am, I am also going to take two Mental Health Days during this term on weekdays where I can have 6.5 hours while the kids are at school to do something relaxing and recharging. I will probably use one of those days for doing a bunch of mildly enjoyable but also necessary non-work things like getting my hair cut and going gift / party shopping - this one I'll locate close to my 9-year-old's birthday party in late Feb, so I can make sure I have enough unstressy time to get everything I need for that. The other day, not sure, see what I feel like when I get there!

So we'll see. The nature of my work is such that things really can change on a dime, so my projections below might end up needing adjustment. This is the putative plan though, for now.

Summer in Review

- Multiple friend sleepovers, hang-outs and playdates for all three kids
- Weekly ice-skating visits for 12-year-old and some combination of friends and family
- Several swimming-related excursions (beach / pool)
- Day trip to Hanging Rock (that was magnificent)
- Visit to the Triennial exhibition at the NGV (also magnificent)
- 2 x movie trips (a split one where some of us saw Ferdinand, some of us saw Wonder, and one of us saw The Greatest Showman; and a me-and-kids-and-their-friends trip to Jumanji)
- A two-night holiday at grandparents for the kids
- Dinner out to Hellenic Hotel for husband and I (while kids were away!)
- Much Ado About Nothing at the Pop Up Globe for me with a friend
- So far, 7 days of paid work for me (4 in week of 8 Jan, 3 last week), with an anticipated 3.5 days this week to round off the month
- Finalisation of Japan trip plans and payments
- Participating in Month of Poetry challenge - haven't missed a day yet!

Term in View (from now til Good Friday)

- Kids back to school and school routines from 29/1 (primary schooler) and 2/2 (high schoolers)
- Return to weekly gymnastics, swimming, jujitsu and skating classes: Two key differences will be the extended length gymnastics class for almost-9 year old , which will add one pressure, and the 14-year-old self-commuting to jujitsu, which will relieve one pressure (although we will still be picking her up at the end) 
- Average of 5 days booked work per week over 4 client projects for me, with at least one, and probably two, interstate trips to clients
- Preparations for our overseas trip (!)
- Plan for two Mental Health Days across the course of the term (dates TBC)
- Special events: youngest's 9th birthday and party (late Feb), Roger Waters concert and overnight hotel stay (me and hubs), Evanescence concert (14 year old and her dad), husband's birthday, friends' second wedding

Wednesday, January 3, 2018