According to my partner, Dr. Erich Longie, the Dakota believe that how one acts immediately after the death of a loved one, is how a person will act for the rest of his/her life. Thus, when someone dies, it is a very bad idea to get drunk, sleep around or other dysfunctional ways of dealing with grief, lest you end up being that kind of person forever.
Well, I’m not Native American, but I can tell you that when my husband died 17 years ago, I worked pretty much from when I woke up in the morning until I fell asleep from exhaustion around 2 a.m. the next morning, then did it all over again. In two years, I paid off over $40,000 in medical bills, funeral bills, taxes due the IRS. As Erich might have predicted, I pretty much kept on that path for the next fifteen years. Originally, when I decided to split off from Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc, I thought I would retire. Within less than three months, we had spun off the satellite office in Santa Monica as a separate company, The Julia Group, AND I had taken a full-time position at USC.
Right now I’m teaching a course at Pepperdine University along with being principal investigator of a research grant and our usual consulting contracts. Oh, yes, and I wrote a book on matwork for judo, grappling and mixed martial arts that should be coming out soon. Except for my aborted retirement attempt, I’ve worked more than one job for the past 17 years.
I’ve really been trying to work less. I went on a vacation this summer to all sorts of lovely places. Of course, right before I went we received an SBIR award so I spent my vacation as a “laptop with a view”.
The last revision for the book I co-authored on matwork went to the editor a few weeks ago. Yesterday, the Rocket Scientist insisted we get version 2.0 of the game done and shipped out on Wednesday afternoon so we would have nothing to do on Thanksgiving. As of 4 pm yesterday, I decided to take two days off. Now, it has been pointed out to me that other people do this, take off from the afternoon of a particular day, then don’t work the next two days. Maria (a.k.a. darling daughter number one) reminds me that this is called a “weekend”. Before the shortest retirement in history, the only time in the past several years I had taken off over 48 hours in a row was when the same daughter number one insisted that we take a cruise to the Bahamas and that I NOT open my computer once during the four days we were gone. That was about seven years ago.
Obviously, I have been a huge failure at retirement. So, I thought if I was going to ever have the option of doing anything but working in my life, I should make an attempt to , well, do anything but working. So far, my day of not working has gone like this:
- Finished The End of Your Life Book Club
- Read a mystery novel, Sweet Revenge (There is a whole genre of mystery novels with recipes? Who knew?)
- Did The Spoiled One’s laundry, which she had saved up, since she is home for five days and brought no clean clothes (but a basket of dirty ones).
- Cleaned up the downstairs aftermath of The Spoiled One’s sleepover with her best friend
- Changed the office guinea pigs’ cage
- Made Thanksgiving dinner for eight
- Saw all of my wonderful children, even darling daughter number one and the genius grandchildren popped in for half an hour via Skype
- Had a terrific Thanksgiving dinner
- Watched Addams Family Values with my lovely family
- Cleaned up after dinner and made turkey soup
- Read the book Unaccustomed Earth
- Read The Incorporated Knight
Yes, I do read very, very fast. So far, I have not done any work other than read and respond to one email from a student. Tomorrow, I plan to go to the Iliad bookstore in North Hollywood with The Perfect Jennifer (a.k.a. darling daughter number two), go out drinking with a couple of friends and the Rocket Scientist, and write an article for Black Belt magazine. I am not sure I have this whole weekend concept down. I really don’t like not working, to be honest. Still, I think I’m going to try to do this a couple of times a month. I can guarantee that within a few months my house will be spotless and perfectly organized. After that, maybe I’ll learn to knit.
Note: I did actually take four days off work in 2009, but that doesn’t really count since I had my knee replaced and was either being operated on or in the hospital being given large doses of – I think it was – morphine, for three of them.