Returning to Work

Today, I contemplate my future. Maybe you are contemplating yours…

Looking forward…

Many of us take a break from our regular work or career for a myriad of reasons. Maybe before further studies, you have taken a “gap year“. Perhaps a young mother returning to work after maternity leave. Perhaps an older parent returning to work after spending time at home as the primary carer for young children. Maybe you’ve taken a sabbatical – some extended leave – from your regular employment and are now returning to a new environment or even considering a career change. Or as is the case with so many now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps as restrictions ease, you are looking for a new job – any job!

I find myself fitting into a few categories. I am an older parent returning to work as my young children are now well ensconced in school life. In fact, I am older than many parents of children in primary (or elementary) school, so I am also in the group who may have taken extended leave from their usual career. And thanks to COVID-19 and it’s effect on the world economy, I am now searching for employment (and an income) that will fit into my current lifestyle, requiring flexibility and restricted hours.

I am discovering a whole new world of jobseeking sites. I am so pleased to see agencies actively marketing job opportunities for people returning to work and looking for a balance with business and personal life.

One of a number of options – working from home – allows the flexibility to look after family, and in the current world situation, the ability to continue working without as much interruption as for those in a more face-to-face and physical industry. A great thing – not only for our own financial well-being, but for our economy.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, then I will be happy to update you from time to time over a “morning coffee musing”, if you like, on the resources and opportunities that I find.

Physical Distancing versus Social Distancing

It’s funny, as I chatted with a friend this morning, we talked about “social distancing” and its effects on COVID-19, ourselves, our families and friends, our colleagues and the general population.

We are really being asked to physically distance, because there are many other ways we express ourselves socially these days. Social contact is not limited to physical situations. Social (and related) media play a huge part – especially for younger people – in the way we interact. Yet, as the human species, physical social interaction is so important to who we are and our mental well-being.

We are rediscovering the importance and strength of family and social groups. Physical restrictions brought upon us by the pandemic have made us acutely aware of the value of those family members and friends we can no longer hug or comfort. Those who live alone have become truly isolated from our basic human need for physical contact.

Thankfully, we are now able to socialise on a “virtual“ level. These unprecedented times have encouraged individual families – whose members through busy lives – had become almost strangers at times, to reconnect. Facebook groups and the like have helped bring us together in ways that were never before possible. I am able to share everyday news with my whole family at one time… Not quite, but almost like being around the table together.

I know that we will have to learn to live with COVID-19 and all the lifestyle complications and restrictions that come with it. I am thankful for today’s technology – that it allows us to connect socially and visually with those we care about – but I so very much look forward to the day when we can again embrace those people with our arms as well.

My World Is Still Normal

It is still early, and I’ve crept out into the garden to enjoy the cool fresh air and bright friendly sunshine. The chorus of birds this morning is more like a full orchestra – too many different calls to count. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and just like the day, I can feel myself slowly coming to life.

In this moment, my world is normal. It is the first official day of the school Easter break. The children are sleeping in a little, my partner is early in to the office as usual, and I am taking a moment of solitude to gather my thoughts and contemplate the day.

Only this particular day is quite different. I won’t be planning an outing for our first day of leisure. We will be planning an at home activity. We won’t go out for a picnic lunch, but perhaps will enjoy one in our own backyard. My partner won’t come home from the office this evening, the office is now at home.

As I contemplate my day, I am reminded that my world is not normal. No one’s world is “normal“ any more. We are in the midst of a pandemic, like nothing we’ve seen in 100 years. Our new “normal” is a world of restricted movement, limitations, trepidation and uncertainty.

In order to live with our new “normal“, I have just realised the importance of taking this moment to feel the old “normal”. While the sun rises, while the birds herald, while the day is still fresh and new… as it is every single day. While my partner goes to the office, just like any other weekday and the children sleep in a little just because they can. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and for this moment, my world is still normal.

I am so thankful that my partner can work from home, and that I have a garden to share with the children.

How are you managing your new “normal“?

Early To Bed, Early To Rise

Every morning I have an epiphany and every evening I seem to forget that old adage “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise”.

Why is it so hard for me to get that?! It has been drummed into me since I was in primary/elementary school, but I have always been a night owl.

Unfortunately night owls don’t always get to sleep in. In fact, for most of our lives we are caught up in the global working world’s timetable – which means a bright and early start to the day. No chance to catch up on that lost sleep.

Doctors have said for years that we need a certain amount of sleep to repair and restore our bodies… Our mental health depends upon it, our healthy weight range depends upon it, our brain function depends upon it, our skin, health and youthfulness depend upon it, our vitality… The list goes on & on! Yet, why do I not get it?!

I always have an excuse – I still have jobs to get done before bed. I can’t get to sleep.

Our simple physical make up dictates that we are designed to function between dawn and dusk. We don’t have nightvision. We need sunshine to nourish our bodies. Our natural inclination is to sleep after sunset (whether we actually realise it or not).

Yet, with a booming caffeine industry, it is quite obvious that I am not the only one who doesn’t seem to get the message. Do you struggle with early mornings? Do you need that cup of coffee to function? Do you often feel grumpy or down? Are you struggling with a healthy weight? Do you lack energy to do your normal daily activities? Do you struggle with clarity of mind and productivity?

Be Prepared

I’ve learned a valuable lesson this week… I also know it has always been staring me in the face.

As we know, removing a family member from the mix changes the dynamic, and this week I have worked hard to keep our hectic morning rush to school as calm and light-hearted as possible. The results have been great – we’ve arrived on or before time, and the kids have enjoyed a chat with their friends or a game of handball before class.

This morning, one of the children asked me if we could do this every day? I laughed and said “that is entirely up to you!”

Just now, as I muse over my morning coffee, I realise and admit that it is also very much up to me. We are all a team and we all play a part. My part is the trigger for all that follows…

My advice to myself – don’t hit that snooze button, get up and get organised straight away. Make sure I get myself a coffee (or whatever it is that gets you going). Take a moment to draw breath and know where you are at.

I’ve always thought I needed to get the kids up earlier, and that they were always the ones dragging their feet as I madly tried to get them to school on time – but that’s not the case. I have been getting them up later than usual (but not too late) and we have made it to school early every day. The key – as all those amazing parents who are already organised well know – is being prepared.

Not necessarily physically prepared with lunches already done and breakfast laid out. As my friends who know me well enough, will chuckle to themselves because they know that I am never that well prepared, I am simply talking about being mentally prepared for the day. I am talking about being calm and light-hearted within.

With all that being said, let’s hope I can practise what I preach into next week, when I have all the team back together! Stay tuned…

Inhale, exhale… Fresh air, positivity!

Your day may have begun with a blur of the spray from the shower, a flurry of clothes as you dressed, followed by a liquid caffeine breakfast, then a mad scramble to make it to work or school… but once you are where you need to be, then stop and take a breath…

We all stop for a coffee, a fruit snack, a short break at some time during our morning. We usually take about ten minutes for ourselves before resuming our daily obligations. Make that ten minutes count! Make it REALLY a “ME break”!

A ten minute walk is ideal – a breath of fresh air if you can get outside, and something that most of us – regardless of fitness level – can do without too much discomfort.

Take that time to reflect, to “muse”, if you like. Take your morning coffee with you while you walk. Empty your mind and open your eyes to your surroundings, whether it be within your building, your neighbourhood or your own backyard. It is amazing what you notice for the first time when you lift your eyes from that phone (or other distraction) and enjoy the moment.

If you have a like minded colleague or friend, invite them along. A friendly ten minute chat about nothing in particular, or something that is playing on your mind can be very therapeutic, or simply uplifting.

A short walk with a friend (or my favourite coffee) can make a world of difference to the outcome of my day, to my productivity, and I like to think, perhaps even to those I come in contact with.

Lately I have been more focused on what I should be doing, rather than what I need to be doing… And that is taking a ten minute walk (or “ME break)… This morning I took that break, and my whole outlook on the day improved.

“Inhale… 2… 3, exhale… 2… 3…

Fresh air… 2… 3, positivity… 2… 3…”