How to Make the Most of Time Off

When I started this blog, I was working in a library and writing roughly once a week for The Arkansas Times.  Then, I moved to Texas to teach high school English, and understandably was missing the key qualification of writing for or about life in Arkansas.  Mostly, I wasn’t living in Arkansas, but instead working in a place where people pledged allegiance to the state of Texas every morning.  (I did not participate in this insane ritual.) 

And teaching is an incredibly intense job that consumed all of my time when I was working, and left me happy to just lie on a couch reading and watching TV during the breaks.  Looking back at my archives, this is crazy obvious since the last time that I posted was in 2011.  I want to get back into the habit of writing regularly, and hopefully that will involve building an audience of people who sometimes check in to see what’s going on here in my little corner of the internet.  But how is it that I suddenly have time?

Oh, I quit my job.  It’s a thing that I’ve had mixed feelings about, but ultimately working as much as I did was not making me happy, and everyone knew that but me.  In my last year and a half as I was building up the courage (and the savings) to quit my job, several people said, “Your job doesn’t make you happy.  You’re miserable.” 

And I argued with them. 

Finally, I started to wonder if maybe my friends and my boyfriend (who had been with me through four school years) might be a little more aware of how I felt than I was.  After all, they all seemed to agree with each other, and the only person who thought things were fine, that this was “just what jobs are like” was me.  Maybe I didn’t know myself as well as I thought I did.  So, I didn’t sign a contract for the next year.  Now what?

I’ve been doing some small contract jobs, and I’ve been looking for work, but it’s been a while, and I’ve started to go stir crazy.  Again, the only person who didn’t know this was me.  My boyfriend Eric, who moved in around the time I decided to quit my job, had to tell me.  Eric has always used his time off well.  He does contract work, so he can get a call for work the day before the job happens, and if he doesn’t get a call, then he decides what he wants to do that day.  He’ll go for a bike ride or to the movies or go take photos or discover a new hiking trail.  When he gently pointed out that I was spending too much time obsessing and feeling guilty over not working, he told me how he copes.  “I used to sit around punishing myself by not letting myself have any fun.  Then I realized that most people wished they had time off, and I do.  So, I should take advantage of that because it is a luxury.”

I’m coming around.  I still have to write cover letters, which he doesn’t have to do for his job.  He’s been doing his job so long, that people will call him for work; I still need to network and hustle because I probably won’t get a call without a lot of work.  I still like doing somethings that involve my couch and a good book, while his idea of a good time usually involves leaving the house.  But I’m going to try.  I’m going to work on writing a series of posts that fall under the heading “Funemployment” an idea I stole from editor Tara Ariano after a job she had at Yahoo! was eliminated. 

Saturday, Eric and I went for a hike at Hamilton Pool, a park that is about 45 minutes outside of Austin.  It was a beautiful day, and we saw lots of greenery, which does make me feel more relaxed.  We also spotted a baby sleeping standing up in a backpack that made me giggle.  There was cold, running water and a weird cave like structure–I’ll do some more research next time, but for now, I’m just trying to get back in the habit of writing and finding my voice.  I’m posting a few pictures below to prove we were there, and to give you a sense of what I mean by “weird cave like structure.”


Next up, a bike ride!

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