Sunday, October 4, 2009

Of workweek blues and weekend bliss

Approximately a year ago, my job duties changed. Rather than doing the things I loved, I was made to work with numbers and deal with money collections. Unfortunately, those are two things I despise - at least when they've turned into my full time responsibilities. (I don't think collections calls are ever fun.)

My previous career was as a bona-fide registered representative, which I'd done for several years after acquiring all of the certifications required by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the State of Michigan. While there, I spent a lot of time researching mutual funds and writing financial plans. And, although I was good at what I did, it was not fulfilling. It was not creative enough. I had no outlet there. I'm not really a numbers person. I love doing the research. I love being accurate with predictions, but after several years, I had to give notice. I just couldn't be happy there.

Finding a new career as a Project Manager at a commercial real estate firm gave me an outlet to do the things I love. Because it is a small firm, I was able to design fliers, do tons of research, write or review contracts and other legal documents, and work with with sellers, contractors, bankers, lawyers, environmental and architectural firms, not to mention municipal and state employees. I was in heaven and often thought to myself as I was driving to work, "Oh my God. I am so lucky to have a job and to love what I do." Every day was different, and new, and exciting...

As we entered the recession, co-workers were let go. Another thing the company let go were the new developments, and thus, my former job duties. Our investors wanted to save their money for future opportunities, which would be forthcoming. The idea that financing would dry up and novices and experienced developers alike would be getting into trouble was a solid bet. I slid into the Lease Administration role, wherein I work closely with tenants and do a high amount of work in accounts receivable. So, once again I find myself in a financial role, which was never my interest. I am biding my time until things change. Hopefully that is soon!

In the meantime my weekends are sacred and my time for creation and beauty. I was recently married (within the last month). The wedding was an opportunity for me to create. I designed a logo of our intertwined initials and used it on the invitations. Each invitation was individually water colored and comprised of three pieces, the logo, a ribbon, and the card. A response postcard was placed inside. I put them together one at a time, and handwrote all addresses for a personal touch. The total cost (excluding postage) was probably about $50, but I did spend hours on the project this spring.

As the wedding approached, I debated what we could give as party favors (and that wouldn't end up in a landfill within the year). I had thought about small pots of fresh basil surrounding a candle or lavender centerpiece. I thought the basil would be practical, biodegradable, and pretty. But, transport to the center would be difficult, and growing the basil was prohibitive space-wise. My husband suggested cookies as favors. He especially wanted to include a favorite cookie that I make. It is a chocolate cookie rolled in pecans with a caramel fill finished off with a chocolate drizzle. The recipe I use is from a book my sister got me several years ago for Christmas, "Best Loved Cookies," although I've also seen the recipe in a cooking magazine as well. I follow all the directions pretty closely, except I make homemade caramel rather than using store bought.

So, I agreed to make the favors. But, one cookie does not a favor bag make. I decided each favor bag would have three cookies: the type from the previous paragraph, a frosted sugar cookie, and a toffee dipped sugar cookie (I made this one up as I went along). I bought small paper "lunch" bags and hand wrote, "thanks for celebrating with us" on each one so that when the top was folded it would be there at the opening. I then drew a small heart under that. Forty-five dozen cookies later, I had 170 favor bags ready to go. Here's a picture of the bags on the favor table:

So, now that the wedding is over, as is the honeymoon, I have returned to work. The honeymoon was the first true vacation in several years. And, my vacation days over the last couple years have been in relation to getting our home structurally moved, getting the foundation poured, doing landscaping, and other generally hard working, non-restful days. And the weekends have been much of the same. Together with my new husband, we realized that we really need to take vacations once in a while. That's sometimes hard to remember when you're a workaholic... as we both tend to be. In the meantime, I am trying to find the peace that vacation brings. I am prioritizing peace. I am prioritizing creativity. I am prioritizing sleep. And, I am trying to make my home the hearth of that all.

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