This morning two young squirrels are playing in the cherry blossom tree outside of my window as I think over my week, ahead and behind me. They flick their tails and make noises that sound muffled in their throats, bouncing on the thinner branches and learning how to balance. I see myself in their dance up and down, around and through the tree– precariously trying to balance life and work. I have a tendency to be a workaholic but accidentally took a bit of break this week with surprise family and delayed travel arrangements. As I anxiously fretted over my workload mid-week, my mother gently reminded me that this is part of the reason I chose this lifestyle. Mostly pushed into it by my health, I do enjoy that I am really the only person I have to answer to, no boss to ask for time off from. All of my deadlines are of my own choosing. I can work from practically anywhere. If my family needs me, I can be there. If there is an opportunity to unplug and have some fun, I can usually take it. There are drawbacks, such as irregular pay and no benefits, but all of our choices have some drawbacks.
Yesterday, I teetered out on a thin young branch, writing emails and putting time in on my projects in the morning before joining my family on my folks’ boat in the afternoon to visit with some cousins camping in the area. I hope to do the same today, but with much less guilt because, after all, tonight is Shabbat. On the boat, I realized that I needed the break more than I wanted to admit. It is easy to get lost in the screens of my research, old documents, legislation, small details on our State Seal. I have been so caught up in the details of my State Seal and trying to make it right on my flags, that I have forgotten to take a moment to appreciate my state. Cruising up Fremont Canyon, admiring the beauty of Wyoming while watching a raptor snatch a fish from the lake, I felt my state pride swell inside my chest. The breeze, just slight enough to keep the heat comfortable, kept the lake placid. The layered red rocks of the canyon gives way to a history older than words and a feeling of time. I remembered why I am burying myself in the details of this seal and why it is so important to me to make it right. I chatted happily with my dad about the Shoshone, Grace Raymond Hebard, and everything I still have to explore in the archives, while we picked images from the rocks of the canyon and he showed us the rocks that he used to fish off of with my mom back when they were poor and fishing for food. My mom’s sister dropped her jaw, shocked to learn all of those beautiful pictures of rainbow trout that my mom sent home to Missouri, were fished out of necessity.
Working for yourself is a precarious balance. It is important to take breaks and remind myself why I am working, but equally important to keep my nose to the grindstone so I’m not eating fish every meal.