Tag Archives: work/jobs

Finding My Balance

AI colorful balance scale

Maggie is back from her lovely “vacation” to help with a new grandchild, and she has returned to her Tranquil Thursday series. Note that from now on it is my official policy to clean up any typos in quoted material, and I’m not indicating so each time because these are blog posts not scholarly articles.

1. We have all heard of the need of work/life balance. If you are still working, what percentage of time do you dedicate to work? If you are retired, how have you achieved balance outside of managing a work life?

I am old-school and work an old-fashioned 7.5 hour day (with an hour for lunch) in an office away from home. I do not bring work home with me or go in on weekends. The rest of my time is for me (I am not going to say “life” because work is also a part of life, and I enjoy going to work). Most of my me time is spent blogging and reading, with cleaning and shopping chores thrown in the mix. Sometimes I paint. Sometimes I work on my half-finished stories. Sometimes I watch movies. Occasionally I take a walk. I do make time for family and friend social events, but not on a daily basis (except for texting).

Remember teeter totters? Life is like a teeter totter. When lives enter or leave us, we are thrown off balance. When there is too much on one side of the fulcrum, the other side is left dangling in the air while the heavy side is stuck in the sand. How is the current balance in your life?

Except for my physical balance, which can be a bit shaky because of vertigo, etc., I would say I have the perfect balance of work, family, friends, and hobbies in my life. I wouldn’t want things to be all work or all family or all painting, etc. The only area in which I am out of balance is exercise, but that’s very difficult for me to engage in regularly because of my chronic pain issues. It’s hard for people who don’t have these issues to understand. It’s not only the actual hours of pain that stop me, but also when I’m feeling relatively OK, my first thought is not “time to run around and get all sweaty.” My thought is… savor this moment while it lasts. Also, exercise can trigger more pain (unfortunate truth).

Fantasy reading romance novel book
Image credit to Jim Warren

If things get too hectic, what tools do you use to regain balance?

Very simple. I ruthlessly cut out activities, at least temporarily, so that I have only work and me time. I have a limited amount of energy for socializing to begin with, and it doesn’t take much to deplete the stores. Family time is usually OK, but I have to deal with driving/traffic to get that, so it isn’t a no brainer to see my loved ones. Friends just have to understand that I will occasionally cancel at the last minute, and if they don’t understand? Pffft.

Sometimes we self-sabotage the balance in our lives by letting too much in, or giving away too much of ourselves. How do you control the flow in and out of your life?

I am a control FREAK. I refuse to do things I don’t want to do or that I think will hurt me in any way.

Life Pie – if you ever completed The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, you may recall the exercise to determine how fulfilled your life is by dividing it into six areas. I will post her instruction below. Draw your life pie. Were you surprised with the results? “Draw a circle. Divide it into six pieces of pie. Label one piece Spirituality, another Exercise, another Play, and so on with Work, Friends, and Romance/Adventure. Place a dot in each slice at the degree to which you are fulfilled in that area (outer rim indicates great; inner circle, not so great). Connect the dots. This will show where you are lopsided.” ~ Julia Cameron

I don’t need a pie to show I’m unbalanced according to someone else’s idea of how things “should be,” though I would like a pie because pie is delicious. There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, which according to old-school math is 168 hours. Let’s break that down.

Pillsbury cherry pie

Each week, on average, I spend about 50 hours working and commuting, 49 hours sleeping (or lying in bed hoping to sleep), 7 hours on personal care (showering, etc.), 7 hours on household chores (shopping, cleaning, “cooking”), 21 hours on hobbies and texting and reading the news, and 10 hours on social events. These 10 include planning and driving, and the hours vary widely from week to week, but when I do an event, it’s a multi-hour commitment, such as a 3-hour book club meetup or a 6-hour game night.

We are at 144 hours, which theoretically leaves 24 remaining for exercise, spirituality, and romance. Thankfully, we can knock romance out of the equation because I hate dating, and we can also jettison spirituality because I’m an atheist. That leaves 24 hours for exercise. Wow, I could spend a whole day exercising!

Yeah. I’ll let you know when that happens.

laughing smiling funny

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.


AI colorful balance
AI Colorful Balance

Lazy vacation days
No plans just good times
Beach picnics and park walks and board games galore
Ice cream cones for dinner
Movies all night long

The rhythm of routines
Back to nine to five
Wake up and shower and dress for the office
Sensible foods and sleep
Pleasure in purpose

Balance is my mantra
Moderation jam
Not too much of one or the other for me
Salad and cake yes please
Keep it all even

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Double ennead (6-5-11-6-5 x 3) written for Word Craft Poetry Challenge 320. We find synonyms of work and play (I used purpose and games) and contrast them. Unlike others who emphasize play, I choose to celebrate each in its own way for balance. Generally, I do not explain my poetry, so don’t get used to it!

I is for Interrogation [A2Z]


Welcome to my April A-Z series for 2023! Initially, I was going to skip this year’s festivities because I didn’t want to feel pressured to post, but then it occurred to me that I could nope. That’s right ~ every day this month (except Sundays) I will treat you to one of the things that make me go nope in the night (or in the daytime). I’m an unofficial participant, hence the badge. Feel free to use it if you wish. Enjoy!

April Gone Rogue Badge

Wow, there’s been a lot of nope happening here at my place, and we’re only about a third of the way through. Let’s slog on. I can’t stand being asked a barrage of questions, or sometimes even one, by people who have no interest in the answer (I’m not talking about the standard business “howareya,” which is basically just another term for “hello” now).

I have TM-peeved about the store clerks and bank tellers who ask what my plans are for the weekend, which is inappropriate, imo. I know they’re instructed to do this, so my beef is more with whoever told them to be annoying, but even so, the words are coming out of THEIR mouth, and I get irritated every single time. Even worse are the salesmen (always men) who wander into my office and start interrogating me with crap: hey, how’s your day, are you busy, what’s going on? Et cetera. Basically, I “rudely” interrupt them and say “what do you want.” They usually look a bit miffed that I dared to interrupt their quest to become my bestie and mention how they “just sold some toner” or whatever stupid thing to one of our neighbors, so they thought they’d bug me next. GET THE EFF OUT!

I mean, do people really think I’ll inadvertently buy something if I get harangued with questions first? Does that actually happen? Whoops, I told some random dude how my day was going, so now I guess I’ll have to buy a new phone plan for the office from him. OK, I guess this must occasionally happen otherwise they’d quit doing it, but even so it’s really hard to imagine.

Hard pass

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Easter Share [syw]

Bunny rabbit in grass

We have a new set of questions today as Di continues her Share Your World series.

1. Do you celebrate the Easter holiday and if not, do you have an alternative?

I do not celebrate Easter. I used to observe Passover, but I lost interest in holidays post-divorce, especially after my daughters left the nest to create their own homes. I had a lovely weekend though. First, I met book club friends on Saturday morning for coffee and a delicious blueberry muffin. Then I went to the grocery store, after which I painted and watched movies in peaceful bliss. Sunday afternoon I roasted veggies and had a feast of nutritious yummies. No chocolate bunnies were harmed during this time.

2. Do you exchange gifts or have a traditional meal?

When I used to celebrate Passover, we had a complicated seder (ritual dinner in order) with a lot of wine. It was generally pretty stressful to try to get everything right, not to mention the rest of the week when you had to eat matzah daily and couldn’t have bread, pasta, cake, etc. I have freed myself of these obligations.

3. How many Easter Eggs (or alternative) did your receive/give?


4. Was Easter a Bank Holiday in your country or did you have to work this weekend?

I worked Friday and I will be working today. I no longer have a side job for weekends, which is a good thing because it was giving me massive eye strain. I need to have time away from staring at the screen. Watching TV doesn’t affect my eyes in that way.

Gratitude: I am very thankful that my eye problem cleared itself last week and I didn’t have to go to the doctor. I don’t know what caused it in the first place, and it was very upsetting at the time.

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Friendly Share [syw]

hand share world green

Do you have a lot of friends or do you know a lot of people ?

Di @ Pensitivity101 continues her Share Your World series today with a fresh set of questions.

I don’t know what counts as “a lot.” If we’re going by Facebook “friends,” I probably have fewer than average for someone my age, and many of those folks I haven’t met in person anyway. I wouldn’t even say I know them; I only see whatever image they wish to project. There are maybe a dozen folks “in real life” I would call close friends, but no one will ever approach the closeness I feel toward my daughters.

If you are at a party and know very few of the guests, do you mingle and introduce yourself, sit on the sidelines and people watch, or discreetly leave?

I have done each of these things at various times. It all depends on my mood, what I’m hoping to achieve, and/or the purpose of the gathering. These days, I don’t often end up at a “party” of this type ~ mostly I attend events where I already know many of the peeps and/or am interested enough in the purpose to hang out and socialize.

What is the best job you have ever had?

My current one ~ legal secretary at a small real estate law firm.

Can you swim?

I know the basics, but I wouldn’t count on being able to deal with any sort of current. I don’t enjoy being in the water, so I stay out of it and gaze at the waves from the safety of the sand.

beach sand rocks ocean sky

Gratitude: I’m thankful I was able to spend time with my grands yesterday.

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

TGIF ~ Regarding Happiness

Selfie collage

Reena continues her Xploration Challenge series by asking us to watch a video and then proceed to stream of consciousness writing. I really enjoyed the video (watched it twice), though generally I am not a fan of vids that aren’t music (except of course for the ones Professor Longhair has alerted me to). Anyway, part of the reason I loved the video at Reena’s is because it is full of cats. They’re animated, but still. KITTIES! I shared a post the other day where I wrote of what makes me feel comfort and spoke of how my sweet cat Gatsby is a big part of why being at home is my comfort zone.

It strikes me as interesting that in a few days’ time we’ve had Reena’s happiness challenge, Maggie’s comfort questions, Jim’s theme of peace for his Thursday Inspiration, and a few minutes ago (Thursday) I read Cyranny’s Quickie, which asked if we can easily find pleasure in life’s little things. I responded that I prefer the little things, which is the truth. That goes with Reena’s video in that happiness is found in the present moment, in the small transient joy of helping a child with a toy or cuddling a kitty or savoring a great cup of coffee. When we ignore or dismiss those “little” things because we’re off to pursue greatness, we often end up feeling miserable. At least, I’ve found that to be the case. When I was chasing after my “soul mate,” I was very anxious all the time, but now that I can treasure a good book or TV show without checking a dating site 500 times per night, I’m much happier.

I wonder if it’s mere coincidence that bloggers are gravitating to themes of peace and happiness this week, or if we’re feeling some sort of larger connection. Perhaps the news of the Ukraine war has permeated our moods to the point where we think, well fudge, we might as well focus on some small joys right now because soon we’ll all get nuked by Putin? Maybe the insane inflation many of us are experiencing is making us aware that we might not be able to have “big” things, like a fancy vacation or a hot new car, so we need to regroup and savor the ordinary moments of our daily lives. Or maybe we’re all getting older and have decided that our best years are behind us, we’re never going to XXX again, so we might as well enjoy ABBA movies on repeat. Or is that just me?

mamma mia movie

So one thing that struck me about Reena’s video, toward the end (it’s not very long), is the notion that happiness is found when doing things for others. I think (for me) happiness can be found that way, sometimes, but I too am an “other,” and it’s important for me to do things for me. For example, I’m tired after working all day, even though I’m only sitting in an office, so with a few exceptions I decline invites for weeknight events. I’m happier when I come straight home after work, have a little dinner, and relax by writing, reading, and/or watching TV. And of course Gatsby is there too. I suppose I could volunteer to help others on the weekends, but honestly that seems stressful, so I would rather be selfish and paint/read/write. Maybe after I retire I will think about volunteer work, but now I prioritize feeling good enough to go to the office every workday, and since I’m an introvert, I need plenty of alone time to “recharge.” To paraphrase JR Ewing from Dallas: alone time isn’t something you ask for; alone time is something you take!

And now it’s Friday, or it will be when this post is published. My laptop search bar says it is World Bear Day (yesterday), so let’s give a shoutout to the ursine among us. Go Bears! That’s an inside joke. Anyway, one of the bear articles says that American Black Bears are turning into Cinnamon Bears, which I think is pretty cool, since I love cinnamon. It’s been slowly happening over the past 9,000 years, so you may not have noticed. I certainly have not. Anyway, enjoy your day, savor each little moment, don’t feed the bears, jabber about TGIF, and link back to me if you wish.


Truthful Tuesday Love

Swirling dancing rainbow flames couple

Di @ Pensitivity101 continues the Truthful Tuesday series today by asking the following questions, which I will answer with musical accompaniment.

Do you believe in love at first sight. Have you experienced it? Did it last?

I do believe in love at first sight ~ I am a hopeless romantic after all. What I mean by LAFS is not mere attraction, but the click of connection. I know the difference because I’ve experienced both. It’s easy to look at someone and find them visually appealing; I even do that still, with all 87 genders. But that’s not what I mean by LAFS, which I could never experience now because I am closed off to love.

January 1983, Chicago. I was 21, ready to change my life, and a guy swaggered into my computer programming class, reminding me of the Marlboro Man, sans cigarette. He was blonde, with a ‘stache, blue-eyed, and slim-hipped. In my mind, he wore a black leather jacket, but I’m not sure now if that was true or if I added it to my mental picture of him later. He glanced at me and I felt that click, beyond desire. There were better-looking men in that room, but that didn’t matter. I wanted the Marlboro Man, and I set out to get him.

Over the next few months, we got to know each other and I fell for him more deeply. He wasn’t that good at the class, so I helped him. He was hungry, so I bought lunch. He was a liar, so I lied too. We concocted fantastical ad-lib stories for the other classmates, such as Marl coming over to my place in the morning to pick out my outfit. We went to bars after class, we drank, we ate pizza, we danced, we kissed, and eventually, in June, we slept together.

I was happy, for a short time ~ we were a couple for a month or so. But I had a new job, and he wanted to go backpacking in Canada. Since I couldn’t go, he took another girl. Around the same time, my parents were getting ready to move to California. They assumed I’d go too, but I was thinking I would stay in Chicago and get an apartment. Until this backpacking incident made me so sad, that is. My father sweetened the Cali deal by offering to buy me a car. Then I said I’d move with them.

The thing about LAFS is that it’s usually one-sided. When I told Marl I was moving, he was happy for me. I don’t even think he said he would miss me. I guess the backpacking went really well ~ I probably would have been a terrible companion anyway, since I detest the outdoors. But I cried a lot after I moved, even after I began to create a new life with a new job. I had to leave work early once because someone was playing “our song,” which was Lionel Richie’s “You Are the Sun.” We danced to that at closing time in a Chicago bar, and I still tear up if I hear it.

I think we would have done OK, if I could have waited out Marl’s wild years. He’s a real estate guy, still in the Chicago area, still looking good, but no ‘stache now. He seems to be married sans kids. Yes, I periodically stalk him, though I’m sure he doesn’t remember me at all. But perhaps he was looking for his own love at first sight… it just wasn’t me.

Some of you may have been expecting me to say someone more recent was my love at first sight, but there was only Marl. The rest were love eventually, if at all. Even the guy who ghosted me at Thanksgiving wasn’t a LAFS, though sometimes I pretend he was, for poetic purposes.

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Morning Dawdle 1

mango lounge

Rory @ Earthly Comforts has a new series of questions of us and I have some replies, more or less.

How hard is it for you to ask for help if you need it – can you do so quickly, or are you resistant to it?

I dislike asking for help these days. For years, whenever anything frustrated me, even for one second, I’d ask my mom for help and later my ex-husband. I grew accustomed to the idea of never dealing with anything myself, and that was a really bad habit. After my mom died and then my divorce happened, I found myself more and more with no one to whine to when something went wrong or if I was confused by instructions ~ and this was a good thing! I became capable of figuring out stuff alone (often with the help of googling) and grew confident in my ability to get things done. Sometimes people ask ME for help now!

Are there any phrases that people use that annoy you immensely?

I hate ethnic slurs of all kinds, and I don’t think any of them are “funny,” nor do I think they should be used for ironic effect. There may be some I’m unaware of, but I try to be alert to nuances of language. Other than that, I’m pretty tolerant of mistakes, since I make them myself, and clichés, especially business-related clichés, which I sometimes do use for ironic effect. Are we on the same page?

How do you acquire new skills – what systems do you adopt to aid you, and why do they make things easier?

Who says I have new skills? LOL. Generally, any new skill I develop now is out of practicality. For example, at work recently I was asked to do Thing X, which I hadn’t done before ~ my boss knew that and said he’d help me ~ instead I figured it out myself and didn’t need to bother him. Now I know how to do Thing X if it comes up again.

Which three spices or condiments do you use the most when cooking, and what makes them more valuable?

I use salt, but sparingly, when I roast or sauté veggies or nom on a fresh avocado. Salt is a wonderful spice, but in my opinion most people use too much, and restaurant food is ridiculously salty, especially salad dressing. The prepared frozen meals I have for lunch at work are also too salty, but there’s nothing I can do about that ~ I already described the disaster that happened when I brought a container of veggies I cooked myself and they leaked all over. Obviously, God wants me to support Stouffer’s. I also love cinnamon and sprinkle it on a lot of things that you wouldn’t expect, such as cottage cheese ~ cottage cheese with a sliced banana and cinnamon is delicious! Mustard is my favorite condiment for sandwiches, burgers, veggie corn dogs, etc., and I used to put it on fish before broiling, but nowadays I only have fish in a restaurant.

Not that anyone cares, but I number my posts of this type according to which ones I answer, not how often they’ve appeared on the host’s site. Rory had a Dawdle a few days ago, but I replied in comments so this Dawdle is my number one. For poetry and flash fiction prompts, I do use the host’s number. Does this inconsistency bother you? It kinda bothers me…

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

TGIF ~ No Good Deed…


Happy last Friday of 2022! I suppose that could make one sad or glad, depending; most of the responses I’ve read to yearly wrap-ups have been in favor of letting this year slide away into the muck and moving forward as best we can. My 2022 was all right, but yesterday, OMG, disaster! I decided that I’d try making my lunches for a week, but no PB&J sandwiches. I cooked a bunch of food last weekend and parceled it out into individual containers. I had a boatload of yummy veggies and potatoes, all ready for nomming up at work in proper proportions.

Monday was a holiday; Tuesday and Wednesday went fine. Then Thursday rolled around. As I exited my car at work, I dropped the bag with my lunch, but at that moment I thought nothing of it, picked it up, and went to my office. As I set my bag on my desk, I saw it was leaking all over the place. What the heck?

The lunch container had opened, ruining everything else inside the bag, and dripping in a line from the door to my chair. Yucky! I cleaned all that up and had to toss out my ruined bag (this was not my purse, btw, but a separate cloth bag). I ended up dumping my lunch as well because ick. At that point, I’d forgotten I dropped the bag and returned to my car to make sure my seat was clean because I assumed the lunch had been leaking all along. After seeing that there was no spillage in my car, I recalled that I had dropped the bag earlier in the garage.

At lunchtime, I went to the grocery store and bought a Marie Callender’s frozen meal to nuke in our office microwave ~ and one for today as well. It was delicious and not the least bit messy. Also, I had to go to Amazon and reorder a cloth bag and a wrist support that had been in the gross mess I threw away. (I had tried washing the wrist support, but that wrecked it further.) Pffft on trying to be healthier; clearly, the signs point in the opposite direction.

Hopefully, the few remaining hours of 2022 will be peaceful with no further leaks or other calamities. How is your Friday going?

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Backward Glance


Maggie continues the Throwback Thursday series today by asking us to look back at 2022, which will be over shortly.

Tell me what you loved about 2022.

I loved seeing my family more often. One of my daughters is geographically closer now, so I was able to see her several times, which was great. It’s also wonderful (though tiring) to visit my grandchildren and view their growth and progress. There were fun times with friends as well, including events via Meetup, such as book clubs. Not incidentally, I continue to derive a feeling of connectedness by blogging and being part of our writing community here ~ and occasionally being pleased with a poem or piece of flash fiction I write and share.

Do you have regrets?

Not really. I didn’t finish the book (of long short stories) I’ve been working on forever, but I simply shrug at that. It’s no longer a priority, though I’ll try to finish it in 2023. One of my resolutions at the start of 2022 was to quit doing stuff I don’t want to do, so when I don’t feel like working on the book, I simply don’t.

What did you lose?

I lost the few pounds I gained after my 2017 depression abated.

What did you gain?

I gained more free time because my side job disappeared and I decided not to replace it. It’s really hard on my eyes (and brain) to stare intently at a computer screen after being at work all day, not to mention spending hours on the weekend doing the same. This is also part of the reason I haven’t finished my book. It’s much easier on my eyes to watch TV at night or even read a book, oddly. It’s simply not as intense as working.

What was your greatest accomplishment?

Saying no to more things.

How was your balance between happiness and sadness?

OK. I still cry over missing my mom. That grief will never leave me, but I can still be happy with my daughters and grands.

And lastly, what are you happy to leave behind and what do you look forward to?

I’m happy to leave behind a feeling of guilt about not doing/being “more,” which is exacerbated by some social media and other news that gives a (probably false) impression of how much other women my age have accomplished. I don’t want to read about what I should or shouldn’t eat and how much I should exercise and all the millions of dollars I should have saved by now, only to feel horrible about not meeting these arbitrary goals some rando is babbling about simply to have content for ad click revenue. I look forward to shedding the rest of that guilt. I am good enough as I am.

Anything more you want to add?

I am excited about meeting a new grandbaby who will be here very soon!

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.