Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Work Hard. Play Harder.

By Martha Reed

My creative writing is probably the most vital thing I do but every once in awhile I have to remember that it’s not all that I do. In between those glorious and rare hours of creative time I have to squeeze in a 40-hour work week (day job, pays the bills), maintain a home and support the needs of my family and friends to the best of my ability. Sometimes, fulfilling these needs is easy and sometimes … not so much. The trick is – and this is one of the things I’m constantly re-learning – how to find the right amount of balance.

My usual pattern is straight arrow; I set a goal and keep to it until it gets done. This is all well and good as long as I remember – occasionally – to stray from the path. Luckily, I have a couple of terrific sisters who offer world-class distraction. For instance, yesterday, my sister Joan suggested that we ride our bikes from Aspinwall into town (6 miles) to catch the Pirates game against Chicago. The trip dahntahn was fantastic, the bike path (except for a nasty gravely bit near the railroad tracks in Etna) smooth going. We made short work of the trip, settled into our bleacher seats, doffed our Memorial Day gimme caps to the National Anthem and then … it started to rain.

And I don’t mean to suggest a gentle Spring shower. It started pouring buckets out there. For hours. Until the creeks overflowed their banks and the lightening flashed around our heads. Best of all, by the eighth inning, we realized that we got to ride our bikes home in it.

Actually, the trip home turned out to be pretty cool, although Joan nervously asked me twice if we were safe. I repeated the old saw: “We should be safe enough. We’re riding on rubber tires” and both sisters bought into it. (I’m not sure if that statement is true or not but it sounded convincing enough at the time). The other lesson I learned yesterday is that there was a reason they used to put fenders on bikes way back when before we paved the roads – because each of us earned a skunk’s tail of mud up our backs by the time we got home. Personally, I don’t think my Bucco’s shirt is ever going to come clean again.

But my point is that when I closed my manuscript document at 11AM for the day, checking out early from my usual routine, I felt a little guilty about it. But now, after such a fun-filled day, spent sharing quality time with both my sisters, I realized that it was just what I needed – a holiday break – and when I sit back down first thing tomorrow I’ll feel brighter and fresher and ready to tackle the next chapter.

And that was my final lesson of the day – to remember what a holiday is for and not just use it to catch up on chores. I need to remember the hard work is always there and it’s up to us to remember to play just as hard, too, because that’s where the fun is.


PatRemick said...

My husband and I decided to enjoy a computer-free day on Saturday. It was so weird, and difficult. But it was amazing how much time we found to do other things -- and how much better we felt at the end of the day. That doesn't always happen with addictions!

Martha Reed said...

HI, Pat.

It's strange how we're so integrated these days. My sister panics when she can't find her blackberry - and she's always checking Facebook to see what everyone else is doing. On your computer free day, did you turn off all the internet?

Annette said...

LOL! Martha, I've had the same mud-up-the-back thing happen on wet bike trails. Soak the shirt for a while. It should come clean.

Sounds like a fun day, rain and all. We do need to recharge the batteries from time to time.

I think striking that balance is the big trick for all of us.

Joyce said...

I should really learn how to ride a bike--although I'm not sure I'd like the mud up the back thing.

Gina said...

Sounds like a great adventure -- should we look forward to a "biking in the storm" scene in a future book?
BTW, as all Pittsburghers know, the Three Rivers Arts Festival opened and that means it will rain, rain, rain, rain, rain (not gentle showers but torrential downpours) until it closes! And whenever there are wind sculptures at the Festival, we have high winds as well.

Martha Reed said...

Gina, you're right about the festival - one of the first things I learned about PGH was the festival means RAIN.

I'm also getting pretty complacent about living with extreme weather! But the bike trail along the river is a hidden treasure. I'd bike it again in a heartbeat.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Sounds like a good time, Martha. Which is exactly why I took the blogging day off yesterday.

I needed a ME day with my family.

M Pax said...

Play can give us new ideas. :D

PatRemick said...

I did turn off the Internet... but a text message found me... and while we were in a National Wildlife Refuge, no less. But since it was from a friend whose husband has been hovering near death, I was glad to get some good news.