>Isolation and efficiency and how they have come around to bite us in the backside…

>This has been a day of being pulled in many directions. After a series of cold, dull, grey, wet, typical January days, today the sun is shining brightly. Although the cold is even more bitter, it is a day with possibilities – getting washing dry, early Spring gardening, walking in the country lanes, or even the (previously waterlogged) footpaths. Spring cleaning…

Suddenly full of energy and enthusiasm (a slight exaggeration this), everything suddenly seems interesting and exciting and I want to pursue every little detail. The current rash of Darwin articles, tv and radio programmes has made me keen to know more, to read “The Origin of Species” and to explore the ideas and the conflict with creationism.

The Origin of Species, of course, ought to wait till I’ve finished “The Adventure of English” (Melvyn Bragg) which has been on my bookshelf unread for several years. And “Stephen Fry in America” which was a Christmas present. And “Bad Science” (Ben Goldacre), a gift for my birthday. And all the time I’m seeing, hearing and reading new stuff that I barely have time to take in.

My Resurgence magazine arrived a few weeks ago, and I opened it for the first time today. Only to find that “Slow Sunday” was on January 25th, and I’ve missed it! Is that ironic, or what? Over lunch, I flicked rapidly through the articles, wanting to read them all but knowing that there wasn’t time. One was a transcript of a Commencement address (not really sure what that is exactly) by Barbara Kingsolver at Duke University, North Carolina: a speech which illicited several “that’s what I’ve been saying for years…” moments (there’s a word for that, but I can’t find it just now). The most vivid of these is the idea of the “age of isolation and efficiency and how they have come around to bite us in the backside”…

I found the speech on YouTube, HERE… and I’ll be sending a link to 3kool, who finished university last year, as it seems to be of some relevance.

Meanwhile, I must go and make a list of things I want to read, and things I want to think and write about. Oh yes, and get on with that Spring cleaning…

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>Me-time or free time?

>This is something I remember from past times when my kids were young and I was at home most of the time: if one is at home, one is thought to be free all the time. When someone wanted an errand run, or company for an outing, I seemed to be the obvious choice. Almost everything around the house and garden automatically became my responsibility: a responsibility that I accepted because I “had the time”, even as I resented the assumption that I would.

To a large extent I continued to shoulder those responsibilities even when I returned to employment. This is part of the reason I felt that going part-time was important to me, as I was struggling to complete my domestic duties in my “free time”. But if I’m not careful the same thing could happen again, and my carefully carved-out “me-time” could be eaten up with window-cleaning, taxi-driving, little shopping trips and shepherding (yes, with real sheep).

My horoscope yesterday said I need to step into the shadows of my own mind in order to reinvent myself and make my work and relationships more relevant. How true!

>Sick note

>At home today, with a heavy cold, and feeling very guilty because I’m enjoying it! Being at home that is, not having a cold…

Over a late and leisurely breakfast I debated how I might spend my day. There is so much I could do. In no particular order, there is cleaning, paperwork, ironing, playing the piano, reading, writing, website design, jobhunting, listening to the radio, embroidery, mending clothes… I could go on. Although some of these things sound like chores, I always feel better if they are done properly, rather than skipped over hurriedly at weekends, or left till they become urgent. These are the things I would hope to do with my time if I didn’t go to my job every day.

But so far I have: slept till 10; spent an hour over breakfast and reading the post; checked my email and bank account; looked at my list of ideas for blog posts; and typed this. Now it’s almost lunchtime.

But it is the feeling of being let off the hook for the day that worries me. I’ve known for some time that I don’t often find satisfaction in my job. It doesn’t earn me big money, conditions are cramped and stressful, and I would class my workmates as acquaintances rather than friends. I should move on, but I don’t do anything about it because my self-confidence is low, and I don’t know what I want to do, or what would make me happy.

Perhaps I will phone a couple of job agencies this afternoon. Or would that be wrong, when I’m supposed to be too sick to work?