Although it doesn’t feel like it here in the Midwest, the calendar insists summer is winding down. I am skeptical. Each day my inbox is flooded with shopping offers and pictures of scarves and sweaters, as I stare at the thermostat and contemplate turning it down one more degree. Despite the humidity and soaring temperatures, I find myself taking a deep breath and settling in. The summer for me has been a whirlwind full of longer than average work weeks dotted sporadically with weekend trips to see friends and soccer matches. I remember a girl’s weekend in June, viewed through a telescope as if it were distantly in the past, perhaps a year ago instead of a mere two months. My 30th birthday the same month seems a fuzzy memory, clouded through a haze of disproportionate time. The July weekend spent in Chicago visiting friends and family and watching soccer stars while sipping overpriced beers is a little closer to the surface, but only sporadic moments of it.
This summer for me was all about work. Regular jobs, new freelance opportunities, and expanding projects crowded together to fill my waking moments. I read a quote in a business magazine once about a start-up and the phrase they used to motivate and drill the importance of the task at hand: Head Down, Blinders On. By May I knew I was in for longer hours, later nights, and consequently bigger paychecks. I alerted my family that I would be doing little else. Side projects and hobbies fell to the wayside. I stopped reading and writing, stopped watching television, stopped sewing. Head Down, Blinders On.
That’s not my normal method. I enjoy working from home for the diversity and casualness it allows my day, I can bounce from one thing to another, take a break from a project to sit outside with a notebook or rip out a crooked seam in a sewing project. Blinders are as foreign to me as Celsius temperatures and the British Pound. I neither use nor understand how to use them. But without planning or consciously trying, I found myself with near tunnel vision. Another person might say they had bitten off more than they could chew, but for me, the full days, the near constant switching between three major projects, the Head Down-Blinders On mindset was invigorating. A sign of success in my chosen path, I was being paid to do things that I was good at from whatever place I chose to be. I was not tied to a cubicle or a business casual dress code. I could do what I wanted, and this summer, what I wanted to do was work.
For months work was almost all I did. Until August hit and I decided I’d had enough. I released responsibilities I no longer cared to hold. The fact that I made the choice, and it was followed through, was just as empowering as the extra paychecks I’d been receiving. Just as I began to lift my head, and remove the blinders, as soon as I began to miss the evenings spent in bed with a book, or a Saturday with nothing to do, the pressure lifted and the work flow lightened. And I breathed deeply the end of the summer air. I sat and did nothing. And soon I began to fall back into the loves I left behind in May, the click of keys as I typed, the sound of a record as I read, the simple joy of going to sleep at the same time as my husband. I don’t believe absence makes the heart grow fonder, but returning to my favorite things has reminded me to be grateful of the many ways they nurture my soul.