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Friday Dispatch: It's June. Leave the House!
Those old rhythms run deep. Plus – Pay-from-the-Heart Coaching Sessions Are Back!
“Time is rhythm.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov
This is the first Dispatch of June – in which I remember that I can actually leave the house during the workday.
That may sound ridiculous. Of course you can leave the house, Jena. You’re self-employed!
Yes, it has now been eight years since I left my day job.
But let me tell you, those old ingrained rhythms run deep.
One of the things I balked at about the traditional 40-hour work week was having to be in a particular physical space for eight hours a day, regardless of what work was on my plate. Over the years, I was able to negotiate various alternatives, things like going down to 90% FTE when Aviva was a toddler and I was working as a career counselor at UVM – this meant I left work on Fridays at noon. Later, after Pearl was born but before I quit altogether and returned to coaching, I would go down to 80% and not go in on Fridays at all. Fridays meant swimming with my kids at the Y, getting big stacks of library books, and eating a snack at Stone Soup on College Street in Burlington where we lived at the time. Then we’d go home, eat lunch, and (if I was lucky!) take a nap. I loved Fridays. And I especially loved the feeling of being less beholden to being in the office.
Mind you, there were aspects of being part of a team and working in a physical space outside of my house that I really enjoyed. The camaraderie, chatting with colleagues about life and work, the routine of getting up and out (except when it was a frazzled rush, then I did not love it). I liked having my technology set up for me by other people, access to support on that front and others, and of course my favorite part was connecting with students and alumni at various stages of their academic and career journeys. The counseling/coaching was always at the heart of those jobs for me, and this meant I sometimes found the more administrative tasks tedious.
I also alternate between procrastination and being bananas productive and efficient, so sometimes I’d get a bunch of work done, not have more meetings, and have to come up with busywork until the hands on those old clocks said 4:30. Busywork is the bane of my existence. In the winter, of course, it was pitch dark by then, and when the weather was warmer, I’d feel somewhat trapped, looking out the window that didn’t open, wishing I was floating in a pond.
This reminds me of my first job after college, which happened to be in a spectacularly beautiful office space with a view of the fountain in front of Lincoln Center. I’d go outside for a lunch break and wonder, who on earth are all of these people who aren’t at work? What do they do? How do I get that?
My parents were both academics and later administrators in higher ed. I didn’t have many models for a work-life more defined by its own contours and contents than external expectations. It took much trial and error to feel my way into that for myself, and not a day goes by that I don’t give thanks to every last twist and turn that led to this, some of which were serendipitous and others that did not seem like “good luck” at the time.
I will never tell someone to “follow your bliss,” as one well-intentioned elder advised me in one of my many moments of professional doubt in my early 20s. It’s so vague, so amorphous, and also premised on a degree of privilege that makes such a notion even ponderable.
But looking back, I can also see the ways in which I’ve done just that. The irony is that so much of following one’s bliss feels anything but blissful. It often feels murky, daunting, and confusing, alternating with bouts of inspiration, audacity, and flagrant acts of faith. The faith part, as you know, is ultimately what sustains me. Along with every single person who chooses to work with me. (Thank you!)
So what does all of this have to do with it being June and me leaving the house on a hot day to work at a coffeeshop?
Well, yesterday morning, Mani and I did our daily practice, where we ask each other, “What are three things you’re looking forward to today?” I said I was looking forward to watching the first game of the NBA playoffs with them later… then drew a sad little blank. It’s not that I wasn’t looking forward to my clients and groups – these I love – but I was searching for something outside of my work day that lit me up, and the fact that I came up a bit blank was slightly concerning.
And that’s when it hit me: I was replicating that old feeling without even realizing it, the one where I was heading into work and wouldn’t come out till day’s end. We were clearly on the same wavelength, as Mani said if I couldn’t think of anything, I could plan something for myself, just as that same thought occurred to me.
It may not sound like much, but deciding right then to head out at 3:00pm after the “Bagels” group lifted my spirits almost immediately. Hey! I can leave the house! I can work outside! I can get in the car and go!
And go I did, to Esselon with its lemon cupcakes and red umbrellas.
Are there parts of your life or routine where maybe you’re still operating according to a defunct system? Where can you could change things up to better reflect your reality today?
As always, feel free to share your thoughts in a comment or email! I love hearing from you. Wherever June finds you and no matter what kind of daily rhythm you have, I hope you remember to step outside.
Shabbat Shalom and love,
Pay-from-the-Heart Coaching Sessions
Are in the midst of a transition or simply want to feel more in synch with the daily rhythms of your life?
Do you find it hard to tear yourself away from your routine – or struggle to create one in the first place?
(And what does writing have to do with it?)
I would love to support you!
To celebrate moving towards Solstice, I am once again offering pay-from-the-heart coaching sessions. For the rest of June, I invite you to pay whatever amount you can and feel good about.*
Take me up on this with two easy steps:
☀️ Schedule your call
☀️ Send your payment (Venmo @JenaSchwartz OR use this link)
*My usual hourly rate is $150
🏳️🌈 June = Pride 🏳️⚧️
Anti-trans legislation continues to rage across the country. On that front, a) please do what you can to educate yourself, show your support, and be a visible and vocal ally in any ways you can, and b) I highly recommend following this account:
If these past few years have brought you to an anti-racism protest, caused you to place a BLM sign or pride flag in your front yard, galvanized you to write to your senators, but then you slipped back into the busy-ness of life after a particular event or episode faded from the news, this is the time to step into the fray.
We need to not abandon each other but to continue to work together to move towards systemic change. We also need to bring an intersectional lens to all of our advocacy and activism, lest we become siloed in our “causes.” They are all connected, as are we.
And if you’re following the local situation with the Amherst Regional Public Schools, come read my latest observations and call to action in the Amherst Indy: In This Moment, Every School Committee Member Has a Choice.
Beware perfectionism – be it in your writing, your advocacy, your parenting, or in any other aspect of your life that matters deeply to you. There is a good chance that the more it matters, the more strongly you may want to get it right. But living your values is not a matter or perfect or imperfect, it's a matter of authenticity and integrity, humility and courage, and the real life stuff of showing up to the best of your ability in any given moment. What "the best" looks like will change in accordance with so many other factors – external conditions, the context, and how resourced you are, to name just a few. So really what I want to say is: Be good to yourself. Chances are you are shouldering a lot, giving a lot, and caring a lot. Everything counts.
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