Tag Archive | Emotional well-being

Enforced margins at work

Being on deferred salary scheme means I am getting 80% of my pay. Maybe it should be called the deferred gratification scheme?

Currently I am having some, for want of a better phrase, immediate gratification when it comes to creating my desired margins at work.

OK there is a better phrase. It is called sick leave.

My leg injury means I am working 80% of the week. Yes, I am working 4 days a week for a few weeks. God it's good. Not the being injured bit; the part time work bit.

I could soldier on and not take any sick days. But I found my manic and long work days fatigued my leg. And then I was too buggered when I got home to do my exercises. If I want to heal, the exercises are mandatory. Even without the lack of exercises, work is just fatiguing for my knee. And I am not sleeping well as the brace is extremely uncomfortable. When I take the brace off my knee hurts as sleeping on my side puts sideways pressure on my knee. Flat on my back isn't better as I need to have pillows under my knee as it doesn't straighten out. And yesterday my back started spasming. I think it is all related. Add in I can't do my normal walks which are my relaxation technique.

My award says I work a 7 hour day, but that is sooooo not the case. Nine to ten and a half are the more common, with a few twelve to thirteen thrown in every week or so, and and a fifteen hour day for good measure this week.

My doctor asked what if she gave me a certificate that said I had to work no more ham 8 hours. Ha!! Once I'm there, I can't just walk out. The work doesn't even get done in 10 hours I do work. Parents would complain if they saw me walking out at the eight hour mark for weeks. And the complaint would mean hours more work dealing with pointless complaints. And there's always something more to do. I never get through my work so I often stay for "just one more thing". And it is expected I will be at evening functions.

So I am having a day off a week for two or three weeks. It will cover the final weeks of wearing the brace.

As I am having a sick day, I refuse to do any work on those days. My first one I just relaxed around the house. And did my exercises, of course.

But that limit doesn't mean I have big margins. In the first week, I still worked over what my award says I do, just compressed into four days. So instead of working 35 hours in five days, I worked 42 hours in four days last week.

If I worked in head office, I'd accrue flexi time and get a day off. But I don't.

Not that I am glad I am injured. I truely would rather be working more than full time and have my knee back. But stuff work if it means my future mobility, health and life will be sacrificed! No one from work, no head bureaucrat will be there holding my hand when I am in pain or can't manage stairs.

Still, part time would be so much better. If only I could job share!

Meanwhile I can have breakfast and enjoy looking st my flowering azalea at my back step.

How are the margins going?

One term in with my margin ruling, and my absence from blithering away on my blog may indicate how well I’ve done at blending work and LIFE. 

It’s actually been the most stressful term I’ve had. Ridiculous bureaucratic changes with Orwellian doublespeak and unrealistic timelines; “tools” that don’t work and are introduced without training. Training for other things that is provided by people reading scripts but who can’t answer questions that are off-script. I’m not the sort of person who can smile wryly and say it is what it is and just work around inane bureaucracy. I have to point out pompous, stupid, pointless decisions and processes. 

So yeah. I haven’t really cut back on hours but I have ruled a clear margin. No work emails at home. No work emails on the weekend. No work emails after hours. Full stop. Period. 

And I have noticed the difference. 

My week at work has varied from 42 hours to over 55 hours. It not just the hours, of course. It’s the stress of decision making, leading change, dealing with above mentioned idiotic bureaucracy, and the pace of work. And naturally, I don’t stop thinking about how to manage things and go over plans in my head after work. 

But the other thing is I have made sure I have done the things that sustain me and build me up. Things I enjoy. 

So enough of the whinging, I will be back to review the term’s fun. 

Time: Having a broad margin in your life

I read a reference to someone famous writing they wanted a margin in their life. I can’t remember who, and I can’t be arsed finding the reference (it was in Gretchen Rubin’s book, Happier at Home, which I have returned to the library) as I see that as wasting the margin that I want in my life. But I think it was that Thoreau fellow. 

Anyway, I read the reference and thought, in arm pumping style, which is so not me, “Yes, that’s what I want.” 

I want a margin to allow me to do or not do things. Things that do not HAVE TO BE DONE. Things that do not shout at me to be done. A margin to breath. A margin to laze around until afternoon in my pjs. A margin to blog or daydream or gaze out the window and think about gardening. A margin to sit in front of the fan and enjoy the white noise and background family noises and be slothful. 

I used to love drawing margins in my workbooks at school. 2.5cm in red pen, using a ruler of course -how could people stand the wiggly, crocked free-hand line? The margin gave space so the page was not crammed with writing. Of course it gave room to correct errors, if, heavens above, corrections were needed in copying notes or in first drafts. But I just loved the space for nothing but to be space. 

This makes me twitch. Too cramped.

Ah!! Much better.

I want a margin in my life to protect me from work demands. (And sometimes from the demands of homeownership and adult life.)

When I’m home I want to Be At Home. When I leave the office I want to clock off from work. 

My boss sent me a text one Friday this year at quarter past five saying he’d call me later that afternoon to discuss an issue. Really, in whose definition is after five, the afternoon??? Surely the afternoon is nearly up and we are moving into the evening? And it is Friday!

I responded by saying I was now socialising and it’d have to wait until Monday morning. He apologised and explained that he’d written the text before he got on a plane and the text must have only sent upon landing. Still, he planned to contact me after his flight landed and after he had collected his luggage and got to the car from long term parking and he was driving home from the airport. That would be way after 5.30pm. Not afternoon by anyone’s standards, surely?

And by discuss issues he’d off-load a heap of shit by discussing a complaint about which I could do nothing until Monday so I’d just feel annoyed all weekend. 

I am proud of myself for managing my manager. 

Other steps on building my margin: I haven’t looked at my work emails out of hours, since disconnecting the work email account from my phone. 

OK, I haven’t been totally free after hours. Phone calls. Thinking how to deal with some issues. Discussing issues with colleagues. But still I am doing much better at “clocking off” and feeling much better. 

I’m averaging about 45 hours a week at work.  Effectively I work non-stop, maybe stopping for 15 minutes for lunch, but usually working while I eat. Really that’s enough. I am not taking my work home. 

I’m ruling a margin around my life. 

PS. On searching for images on margins in life turns out lots of people want margins and it’s a common concept in self-help blogs and books. That’s me! Jumping on the bandwagon late in life. Oh well, better late than never. Some sites tell you “Five simple ways to create margins”, others how better to use margins. Pfft. Well, der. I need to switch off my connectivity, especially from work. And walk out of the office. Who’d a thunk it??? Anyway, I’ve gone with my metaphoric exercise book margins rather than the usual metaphors of a mindful, quiet, sunset, natural image. Way too obvious!!!

The end of the end of term break

In every first week of term I am asked, innumerable times, “Did you have a nice break? What did you do? Did you go anywhere?” Just as I have been asked innumerable times prior to a term break, “Going anywhere?”

Why this obsession with going somewhere?

When you answer, “No,” it is as if you have to justify, rationalise yourself. “No, but I’m catching up with friends.” “No, but….”

“Oh, yes, you’ve done a staycation before.”

Even stranger when I say I am going to my mother’s. “Where does she live?”

“Oh, Queensland. That will be nice.”

Well, actually I am going to my mother’s to see my mother, not to Queensland. I won’t be sight-seeing, or going out.

You might think I have given this too much thought, but I have had over a hundred term breaks. That’s a lot of conversations about “What have you done? Did you go anywhere?”

So here’s what I have done for my emotional well-being this term break. And no, I didn’t “go” anywhere.

  • Had drinks to celebrate the end of term. A friend pulled this one out of her fridge.
  • 20140421-093714.jpg

    I am sure the French don’t pronounce it as billy cart salmon. However you say it, it was divine.

  • Had a dinner for over 20 people with some long term friends and family to celebrate my sons’ birthdays. (What? No photos? Sadly, everyone was too busy enjoying themselves to whip out the phone or camera.)
  • Slothed, lazed about, day-dreamed, stared into the distance, snuggled under a blanket, sat in the sun, ruminated, fantasised, had slow breakfasts looking out at my camellias flowering.
  • 20140421-094602.jpg

    And the plants and birds beyond my verandah.


  • Watched movies – both good and bad. (Sharknado, is so awful it’s funny, but if time is precious to you, give it a miss. Do see The Gand Budapest Hotel.)
  • 20140421-095620.jpg

  • Read blogs, magazines, books.
  • Decluttered.
  • Had family over (14 including us) for a curry feast at Feater, I mean Easter.
  • Hosted an Easter Sunday lunch with a neighbouring family for which I whipped up homemade hummus, tabbouleh and sweet chilli chicken.
  • Flew to Queensland and caught up with family. Had lunch out and afternoon tea with female family members. Vegetarians and those avoiding fat and salt, look away.
  • 20140424-223416.jpg

    Actually, that wasn’t too bad. The meat, and it was mainly fish, bugs and prawns, were hidden by the hands, wine glass and chips. And the bug on my plate is upside down, so hard to make out. But this shot of the last plate has little lambies all cut up.


  • Watched the sun set from the top of a mountain in the state that is beautiful one day, perfect the next. The sky was so blue and so wide during the day. The sunset so glorious.
  • 20140424-222536.jpg

  • Walked every second day. Did some exercises and stretches.
  • Had a therapeutic massage.
  • Bought some clothes. Very different pieces, not chain store items. And the MOST BEAUTIFUL dress. See!
  • 20140427-092103.jpg
    This dress has the most gorgeous detail on the neck line. It’s a gold chain wrapped in two ribbons. Beautiful!

    All the clothes were sourced in boutiques in Queensland. I know I won’t run into anyone with the same clothes. And Dar, that dress is actually made in Canada.

  • Had an acupuncturist treatment.
  • Went to the dentist, had a chipped tooth repaired and a routine check and clean.
  • Had my dot painting stretched.
  • 20140424-223208.jpg

  • Ate heaps of hot-cross buns and Easter eggs. Bugger! The waist is expanding again!
  • Finally made the vegetarian lasagne I have been meaning to but put off because I find lasagnes too convoluted. And it was THE BEST.
  • Baked a cake.
  • Hung out with my kids and husband.
  • Had my car serviced and rego done so I don’t have to worry about it when it is due during the early part of term.
  • Yep, had a nice break, did lots of things, and didn’t “go” anywhere.

    Just a short break

    A long weekend away restores me almost as much as a holiday.

    I very rarely play hookie from work. In fact haven’t done so since I was a whipper snapper. But there’s always a first.

    I read a thread about when people want to retire and one line struck me now I suffer repeated back pain. What’s the point in paying with your health for wealth and then using your wealth to pay for your health? In other words why put so much into your work that your health suffers so that later in life you need to spend all your savings on your health.

    My back problems largely stem from work. Stress. Too much sitting. Not enough time to exercise.

    And given my idea of a gorgeous life involves being healthy and travelling, I ran away recently.


    Sorry, just had to shout that out.

    Only two days missed from work mind you. And my back was so bad I wouldn’t have been able to work for one of those days anyway. I rarely have a day off work for sickness. In the last three years there’s been one day. Which makes me question why I am such a martyr.

    The back pain was particularly bad. So I tried acupuncture and cupping. Don’t know why it worked, don’t know how, but the relief was immense.

    So here I am. Watching the desert birds come in for an evening drink in a bird bath.

    Watching the sunset over the West Macdonnell Ranges.


    Going for a swim in a waterhole.



    A beautiful morning

    Woke up. The sun is shining. The sky is blue. The snow is glistening. (Channelling Hemingway – simple words in short simple sentences.)

    Feeling very content, very happy. (OK, that’s not Hemingwayish.) Even the aching shoulder and knee and the huge bruise on my bum from a massive stack brings joy, resulting, as the injuries did, from a skiing mishap.

    All the stress of work has dissipated. No demands on me. I can sit all day, or ski, or read a book. Or just look at the view and daydream.

    Time to just be. Not to have to do something.

    View this morning. Who couldn’t feel relaxed and content?


    The Four Agreements – a refresh

    I love this diagram, found at this site.


    How have you been going with these agreements?

    My month in review: excellent on Agreement Number 4, very good on Agreements Number 2 and 3, and needs improvement on Agreement 1.

    Now time for today’s log:

  • 1. Did I have a laugh today?
  • Yes. Luckily I find humour everywhere.

  • 2. Did I give someone a hug today?
  • Yes.

  • 3. Did I do a relaxation activity, such as read a book, have a bath, light a candle, dream, call someone and have a chat, sit in the sun?
  • Yes, lit a candle and dreamed.

  • 4. Did I do something good for someone else or be nice to someone?
  • Yes, looked out for another . Bought a gift for someone at work. No reason, just because. Well, saw something that I think this colleague would like and she is a lovely person. So will surprise her tomorrow.

    Today’s decluttered items = Paper, paper, paper! Paper products, envelopes, pencils, folders, craft paper, old cards, postcards. Plastic envelopes! Some is destined for the recycling bin, some for the rubbish bin and some to be (possibly) reused at work.


    I’m not a hoarder but…

    Sarah from live to list in her comment encouraged me to take before and after photos.

    Well, it will be ages before I can take “after” photos. But here are the before photos of my junk room. And not before-before photos, because it was originally a study and I could actually sit at the desk. Now, well the photos speak for themselves.

    Starting from behind the door: 20130528-204612.jpg
    Working around the room:20130528-204716.jpg
    Can we just back to that desk! And have a close-up of the book in the desk. 20130528-204816.jpg

    Is that “Paper Flow”? The book on dealing with paper? How ironic! It is being buried by paper. No flow then?

    Anyway, let’s continue our journey around the room.20130528-205020.jpg
    The bare shelves are the result of recent decluttering.

    And finally, walking out of the room, with a backward glance:20130528-205539.jpg
    Now time for today’s log:

  • 1. Did I have a laugh today?
  • Yes.

  • 2. Did I give someone a hug today?
  • Yes.

  • 3. Did I do a relaxation activity, such as read a book, have a bath, light a candle, dream, call someone and have a chat, sit in the sun?
  • Stared out the window during breakfast. Went to Pilates.

  • 4. Did I do something good for someone else or be nice to someone?
  • Yes, helped someone with family difficulties.

    Today’s decluttered items = Some craft paper. But as the above photos show, I have a lot to go.


    Procrastination? Distraction?

    So, I have to ask myself: has focusing on emotional well-being and coping skills really been so I don’t have to address my poor, and sometimes atrocious, eating habits?

    It has been good to remind myself to treat my family well. And to take time to do little things I enjoy.

    But, you know, I do see beauty everywhere. Here’s a photo from my back door. The ever changing colours always give me pleasure.

    And I am an optimistic, glass-is-looking-quite-full kinda gal.

    Here’s another gratuitous shot of beauty from my front yard.

    20130524-171744.jpg Love looking at this tree!

    My back has been what is strangely called “out” for nearly 4 weeks. Osteopath and massage therapy have given intermittent relief. Some drugs have relieved the pain, others have done next to nothing. As a result, I have not been doing any exercise. I was already getting slack with the Strong Women routine, but did Pilates and yoga every week last term, and at least 4 walks a week. Now nothing is possible. And I can feel the difference in my waist.

    Ironically, stress is probably a major contributing factor to my back pain. That and prolonged sitting, poor posture and not doing my hip stretches.

    So for all my pronouncements, written as if I am a paragon and guru to be followed, these coping skills haven’t helped my back. Or maybe they have, and I’d be an unbearable grump if I wasn’t addressing them?

    Anyway, Friday night. No time for more blithering. I’m joining my back and going out. Out for a drink and nibbles. Alcohol purely for medicinal purposes, don’t you know!

    Today’s coping activities log = Laugh, Hugs, something nice for self and something nice for someone else? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

    Today’s decluttered item = children’s book. Given to a colleague who has a new grandchild.


    The fourth agreement: Always do your best.

    This agreement is similar to Dr John’s Ace of Spades – learning and working and getting better at something.

    And know that your best won’t always be the same – you may be tired, sick, upset and cannot do the same as when you are refreshed and alert. Doing your best means that it is the action, not the reward, that you focus in. So at work, it is not payday that you focus on, suffering the other days and trying to escape. You focus on the work.

    Ruiz says the first three agreements will only work with this agreement. You have to know you will not always be impeccable with your word, you will sometimes take things personally and you will sometimes make assumptions. But you are doing your best! So don’t judge yourself, punish yourself, or feel guilty.

    Now time for today’s log:

  • 1. Did I have a laugh today?
  • Yes, at myself.

  • 2. Did I give someone a hug today?
  • Yes, my sons.

  • 3. Did I do a relaxation activity, such as read a book, have a bath, light a candle, dream, call someone and have a chat, sit in the sun?
  • Read the first chapter of a new book in a bubble bath.

  • 4. Did I do something good for someone else or be nice to someone?
  • Yes, nice and supportive.