Over a cuppa: October 2017

November 6, 2017

‘Over a cuppa’ is about taking time out from the busyness to remember and share the little things and feel-good moments from the every day that brought me a smile. It is also a space for me to record progress on projects or thoughts on what I’m reading, and hit the reset button ready to take on the next month. xo

One of my new favourite things to do on a weekend is a slow start in bed on a Sunday morning, with a cuppa, my laptop, my journal or a book. I’m sipping a chai tea of a new brand of tea I’m trying – Pukka tea. I was introduced to Pukka tea in my first barre class since arriving home from six month of travel. The ‘Relax’ tea with camomile, fennel and marshmallow root was a life saver in that class. The hubby is readying a shopping list for his first trip back to Bunnings. I don’t know what is on that list, but I do know that he’ll come home with more and/or different items that intended. Yep, we’re settling back into day-to-day life very well!

This past month has been about settling back in here at home after six months away – two and a half months in South America and three and a half months in Europe. We had some amazing adventures. We also had some not-so-great moments and a whole lot of learning. I’ve returned to work at the university library; started to put new habits into practice and read a thought-provoking article about women’s careers.

Settling in

I am in ‘nesting’ mode, big time. I’m loving keeping on top of the housework (never thought I’d say that), keeping our home a lovely space to be in. Baking the week’s morning tea has been a staple ‘to do’ on a Sunday afternoon after buying the groceries. I don’t know how long that will last, but I do hope to experiment with more and more recipes. Meal planning for the week ahead has also featured in the weekend routine. I like knowing what’s coming up, or what meals we can choose from during the work week, taking that dread ‘what do you feel like for dinner?’ phone conversation near the end of each work day.

Decluttering each room in the house is an absolute joy. And I’m brutal. I grew content with the bag of stuff I was carrying around, and was instantly overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have at home. So, a lot of stuff is lined up to be donated or given away. What has been decluttered so far is currently in the shed so that after we’ve finished the bulk of it, we can properly research and plan where it can be donated, etc.

Catching up with family and friends, slowly but surely, has been awesome. I love the mid-week catch up too. Plenty more to come.

All this – baking, catch ups, Sunday mornings, barre classes, have been made possible by one simple thing – I’m not working on weekends. Nor am I working evenings, at least most of them. And I’m loving it. I really like the space leaving (most) work at work is giving me. My head feels clearer. I’m able to switch off more effectively and just be.

Return to work

Coming back to work has been harder than I anticipated. And not in the way people might think. I welcomed the routine, the consistency; putting energy back into my work and thinking in front of a laptop. I didn’t dread going back to work. But I found difficulty in wrapping my head around things again, thinking and processing a little quicker and with more complex problems on a day-to-day basis. My brain was mush the first week. I felt overwhelmed by all I had to get up to speed with, as I was eager to start delivering again.

After my conference presentation in Manchester back in July, I switched off from my work nearly altogether. I checked Twitter every now and then and only responded to mentions. I focused on the purposes of the sabbatical for the remaining half – journaling, processing, being present, being with my husband and simply enjoying. By the time I returned to work, I felt so out of it! But in a good way. I take it as a sign the sabbatical achieved its aims. 🙂 I feel I’ve hit the reset button on not just work, but many things.

My second week was easier as my supervisor helped me to identify some quick wins and opportunities for my role to be involved across the library. I was able to start planning and prioritising. The last few weeks have seen me slowly get back into being aware of what’s happening in library world, where I fit in and where I need to be and go.

Women’s careers

I read an article the other day about women’s careers and advised if women cannot find a supportive partner, they’d be better off single. The article explains some women’s experiences of being side-lined at their workplace when they’ve attempted to strike a balance between their career and family commitments, or careers taking a back seat while rising children and their partner’s career keeps developing and advancing.

“It’s easier to opt for the path of least resistance — the historical norm of a career-focused man and a family-focused woman. Especially if, as is often the case, the man is a few years older, has a career head start, and so earns a higher salary.” (Aviva Wittenberg-Cox, October 2017)

The article goes on to say “About 60% of late-life divorces are initiated by women, often to focus their energies on flourishing careers post-50….[the husbands] had worked so hard, provided so well — that was what they had understood their role to be! But that isn’t what modern couplehood is about in a more gender-balanced century.” (Aviva Wittenberg-Cox, October 2017)

Thoughts on our household

This article had me thinking about our own dual-career household. Both my husband and I are career-minded people – we have goals, are driven and determined to learn and gain as much meaning and satisfaction as we can out of the paths we’ve each chosen. My thoughts at this stage is that balancing and managing the household now and down the track will require understanding the potential and limitations of each other’s professions. Because they are different. You can’t expect the same things, the same ways of working, the same potential for advancement, etc from two different professions. They’re two different job markets, two different contexts and sets of conditions.

In a way, I have already thought about and started to prepare for the need to be flexible with my work; develop the ability to diversify or acquire alternative income and work remotely. Though the skills and experience I have gained in recent years easily lend themselves to this way of working. The key, through the years ahead that with whatever sacrifice we each make, we strive for continued meaning in our work and careers.

What else I’m reading…

I started reading ‘The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*^k’ before we left on sabbatical but didn’t finish it. I recently picked it up again and I’m realising how much of my mindset has changed over the last 6-7 months. Not giving an eff about sh*t that don’t matter is a mindset with which I’ve returned home. Practising this will require patience and being mindful, so I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book for tips and reminders. So far, I recommend this book!

What I’m looking forward to in November:

  • more catch ups!
  • my birthday!
  • more barre classes!
  • more writing!
  • fun times at the cricket (yes, even The Ashes)
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