It has been two months since I began my new job working in tourism. I have to say, I'm glad I ended up working in this particular company (for one thing, none of their tours involves love locks!) The people are great, a very international crew, and the management has been very flexible and supportive of the occasional moments where I need to duck out to take a call from some journalists... even the time where I was kidnapped by motorcycle by a French TV station to do an interview on the bridge and didn't come back for an hour when I'd told them I'd be gone for 20 minutes.
But since I began the job, I've had a bit of a hard time getting into a good rhythm, the right balance, with all the various parts of my life. My new job coincided with the heaviest wave of media attention, my house looks like a bomb exploded (not that I was ever the world's greatest housekeeper but this is ridiculous), and we sometimes have to scramble to pick up necessities like toilet paper and orange juice because I am not as observant as I once was about when we're running out of things.
And both my exercise routine and my writing have definitely suffered the most. I'm embarrassed to admit this but since I started working, I think I've been able to get to the gym twice. That is appalling! My track record on writing is just as dismal... as anyone can plainly see from this blog alone.
In short, I have been feeling like I'm on the proverbial hamster wheel, just trying to keep up, and not really succeeding at much of anything with the exception of having done one hell of a job doing my part in getting this anti-locks campaign off the ground. So, something had to give, and finally this week, I reached a breaking point. I wasn't about to quit my job and I didn't want to reduce my hours either, but I knew something had to change. As I was on my way into work a few days ago, I suddenly had an idea: What if I could work only 4 days a week but longer shifts, to make up the 35-hours a week that is considered a "full-time work week" in France. (And yes, you Americans have my permission to blow me a raspberry, with your 40+ hour work weeks.) If I could get my supervisor to go for it, I would have 3 full days every week to myself, and still have a full-time job.
Well, I not only got a "yes" to my proposal but my timing couldn't have been better, because as it happens, they were in the process of shifting everyone's schedule around on our reservations team anyway, so it was the perfect time to ask. So, I submitted my formal request with my 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices of possible scheduling scenarios, and figuring that all they could say is no, I even asked to get both Saturdays AND Sundays off, as well as one additional day off during the week, with Monday being my preference. But I knew I was asking a lot - entire weekends off are usually reserved for the more senior people and even then some of them generally end up putting in a weekend day here and there anyway. So I never expected they'd go for it.
But they DID.
The positive impact of the change has been immediate. The new schedule starts this week. Today, for the first time in weeks, months even, I put in three solid hours of writing time. The house is still pretty messy, but I did some laundry and cleaned the bathroom. I did a long Skype meeting related to No Love Locks business. I talked to my mom. I also relaxed and spent time with my husband, without the pressure I have felt the past 2 months of packing too much into my one day off at a time (I was off on Sundays and Wednesdays, previously, in order to balance after-school care for the Garçon). I didn't spend Sunday feeling like I had too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. It was glorious!
Tomorrow I'll still have things to do around the house and I have to clean our rental apartment, but I'm actually looking forward to going to the gym (they will be shocked to see me, no doubt). I will still be able to put in a bit of writing time, too. I never realized before how great it is to have two days off in succession. And starting next weekend, it will be THREE days off in a row. It's going to totally change my life, this new rhythm.
Just last night, I began reading a book someone recommended to me, called "Nothing Changes Until You Do", by Mike Robbins. I'm only a couple of chapters into it, so I can't say yet what I will or will not get of value from the book, but the title alone is an attention getter, and exactly what I realized last week when I hit that breaking point. I was feeling stressed and frazzled and as if I wasn't accomplishing any of the important things I wanted to accomplished, but whose fault was that? Mine. And I knew if I wanted different results, I had to actually DO something different, not just sit around feeling sorry for myself and frustrated with my situation.
It feels good to have found a workable solution. I mean, unless I win the lottery or a 6-figure book deal (hopefully the odds are better on the latter of those dreams) I need to have this job right now, and that means less free time. But with this schedule I can have the job and make better use of the free time I will have. I think the reason it fell into place so easily is that it was ME who first made the decision to change something... and then the Universe sort of put the rest in motion.
It's so cool when that happens.
And now, I'm off to go and read some more of that book before bed. Reading is another thing I had stopped doing altogether, being too exhausted at the end of each day to focus on a book. So this is a good sign already, that things are lightening up in my daily rhythm.
I look forward to having more time and energy (and hopefully some better stories to tell) for blogging as well. I hope you're looking forward to it, too. Thanks for hanging in there with me while I've been working all of this stuff out. :)