Hit the brakes or reduce speed?

It is really quite interesting how one’s perspective affects their experiences.

While I was not absent from the pages of the Saratoga Sun last week, I was absent from the office itself. I had finally scheduled some vacation time right before things typically get bustling here in the Platte Valley. Beginning with the Tale of Two Cities Golf Tournament this past weekend, it seems we are filled with events nearly every weekend until August.

I was quite excited to take my vacation, too. I had plans for taking at least one day to go on a hike either at the Indian Bathtubs or the Encampment River Trail. I was going to take my son up to Riverton to see my paternal grandparents for a day. My intentions were good to use my vacation time to its fullest potential.

None of that happened.

While I did get a chance to spend some much needed time with my son, Jareth, it was mainly due to the fact that we stayed inside to avoid the string of nearly 90 degree weather. We were also inside because we both got sick within the first few days of my vacation. Honestly, it never seems to fail; when I take some time off I feel under the weather.

This is where the perspective comes in.

I am constantly pushing myself to do something. Working for the newspaper, I have a number of meetings I cover on a regular basis all year and I try to make as many of the games either in Encampment or Saratoga as I can during the fall, winter and spring seasons. That’s not mentioning the various businesses I will interview for one reason or another or the other aspects of my job as editor/publisher.

In many ways, I can identify with Bilbo Baggins in “The Lord of the Rings” when he said he felt like butter spread over too much bread. I would not be shocked if, at some point in the future, I meet myself while I’m coming from one place and going to another.

I digress.

My perspective when I first got sick during my vacation was if I was getting ill when I took time off, the only logical conclusion was not to be taking time off. If keeping moving and keeping busy was, apparently, preventing me from falling ill then I shouldn’t stop. Besides, I was making up for the countless times in my youth when I would call-in sick with the slightest cough or upset stomach.

As one might expect, there were some who disagreed with this analysis. Chief among them was my wife, Telitha.

We both had an idea how much time this job would take up when I first applied to be a reporter nearly four years ago. We also felt we had an idea how much time I would spend either at the job or focused on the job when I came into the role of editor/publisher nearly two years ago from watching my own mother in the role of general manager. My wife has the patience of a saint when it comes to the amount of time I’ve spent with the newspaper.

Even with that patience, she was very vocal in her disagreement with my analysis that I just shouldn’t take time off if it meant that I would get sick. She offered a counter-analysis and that was I needed to find ways to reduce my time focused on the paper and increase my time with my family. It’s hard to argue with that logic, especially when I talk with people while I’m out covering events.

For example, while I was at a recent chamber social for Laura M, everyone’s favorite local curmudgeon, Art Lays, said “I don’t know how you do it”. When I asked what he meant, he elaborated by saying that he couldn’t understand how I could be at so many meetings and events on a daily and weekly basis.

“Your family must miss you an awful lot,” he said.

As a matter of fact, they do. I try my best to be home before bedtime but that’s not always the case and I’m often kissing the forehead of a very tired, and fast asleep, little boy. When I am home for that nightly ritual, however, he often grabs my arm and ducks under his covers while saying “You’re staying with me”.

For Jareth, the time I’ve spent at the office or having to go somewhere for work is almost second nature. More than once, I’ve had to tell him we would have to reschedule plans for a weekend or an evening because something came up that I had to cover. Each time, he has said “That’s okay. I understand”.

While he says he understands now, I can’t help but worry about the future. Right now, he’s understanding my work has odd hours and sometimes it requires me to rush out the door during dinner or at bedtime. As he gets older, however, will he have that same understanding or will he begin to resent the amount of time I spend at meetings and events? Additionally, while he doesn’t mind spending time in the office with me, will there come a time that he dreads having to be there?

I know I’m not alone in this feeling. I also know I’m not alone in the ongoing battle of splitting professional time and personal time. It’s probably not a bad idea to at least reduce my speed from time to time rather than waiting for a good time to completely stomp on the brakes.


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