Work

I was just reading a blog post by Tynan. It’s a newly discovered blog (by me), and I’ve really been enjoying it. He provides a different way of looking at your life and work that I find refreshing. Check out this gem from todays post:

When you push on work, the peak of excitement doesn’t go as high as eating ice cream or watching movies, but you get a really deep sense of satisfaction during and afterwards. You become a better person in the process.”

This is so true. Much of my work is repetitive and doesn’t require much thought, so it’s easy to put off. I don’t have a boss standing over me with a pink slip. But when I start working, I enjoy it. Building something tangible is intensely satisfying. You started out with a piece of wood, and now you have a smooth, glossy giraffe.

My number one goal for this work year was to build up a stock of every item I sell. My goal is to be able to ship out every order immediately. I get an order. I package it up, and put it in the box for the mailman to pick up tomorrow. I hope to be at that point before the summer. Not because I want to stop working for a while, though that can be nice for short periods of time, but because then I will be able to better focus on improving my efficiency and techniques, building up a bigger stock, and toying with new ideas.

Tynan advocates work as your set point. Like I will work most of the time on this, and any time spent doing other things is extra, extraneous. This can be a highly effective way to realize your work goals, especially if you are single with no children. When you have kids, this is not a feasible way to attack your day.

The days that I’m most productive, like today, I get up at 6, take care of my morning routine (wipe down the bathroom, take care of the laundry, and put away the dishes), check email and etsy for no more than 15 minutes, and get down to the basement right away, before I let myself get sucked into web surfing. I probably shouldn’t even check email, but it helps me wake up.

When you are a mother, you have to do the most important things first, otherwise, things will happen, and they’ll never get done.

Working before my son gets up sets the tone for my whole day. Because even if life ensues and I never get back down to the basement, I still did 2 hours of focused work that day.

Tynan stresses that if you want to make an impact on the world through your work, you have to devote high quality time and quantity time. As a mother, most of the impact that I want to make on the world these days is to raise a smart, healthy, creative, productive, kind, critical thinking son. But I also want to provide people with beautiful toys, that make your skin happy when you touch them, that make you want to get down on the floor and play, that are natural and can be tossed in the woods to rot when you are done with them (or kept for your grandchildren).

I’ve been reading Blue Zones. It’s a book examining cultures that have a high number of people living longer than average lives. One of the many things that I’ve taken away from the book is how much the people work. But it’s part of life. It’s valued. It isn’t begrudged time away from fun and family like most people think of work today.

One thing that seemed to hold true was that they did their work in the morning. They were up at dawn with their sheep or in the gardens, etc. The afternoons and evenings were for relaxing and visiting with friends and family. They went to bed with the sun.

We need to change our attitude toward work. I love a story Jean Leidoff (author of the Continuum Concept) tells about a young man that had been taken from a village as a small child and was raised in a more modern city. When he returned as a young man, he was taken in by someone, maybe a relative. No one ever made him do any work, so he didn’t. He drank water other people brought and ate food other people grew and prepared. After a while though, apparently he found this way of life unsatisfying, and he started a small garden. As time went on, soon he was working as much as everyone else, even though no had forced him to.

We have this idea that we HAVE to work, and that’s the only reason why we do it. Yes, we do need to earn money, but even if we didn’t, would you rather be idle? Work is a sacred duty. It’s our contribution to the world. As mothers, we have a different kind of work than a paying job (sometimes we have both!), but it’s work just the same.

In planning my trip to Costa Rica next winter, I realized that I didn’t just want to lie on the beach for a couple of months. I love my work. I love working, creating something for other people. So one of my goals now is to find work to do while I’m there. Maybe learning how to carve and whittle. Hopefully some time working at an organic farm. Maybe working part time at a hostel or bed and breakfast. It doesn’t have to be paid work to count either.

I realized that if I no longer needed money. I would still keep doing what I’m doing. Still, some days I need to check my attitude towards work and make sure it’s a healthy one, and not a self-defeating one.

Daily Rundown:

breakfast-green smoothie

Lunch-red leaf lettuce with strawberries and grapes and raisins with some more strawberries and dates afterwards and 2 bananas taken with me to chess club

Dinner-curry and pita bread (I forgot to cook the rice again!)

Workout-none, I was feeling over-exercised today, and even though I wanted to run, I thought I’d better take a day off.

Work done-sanded a basketful of bathtub animals, greased and woodburned loads of animals and boats, cut, dremeled and sanded a bunch of owls and 2 plane teethers

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