Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Over the summer, with the Teddy-to-Kindergarten transition looming, Paige encouraged me to find some time to go way for a few days to relax and reflect on my duties, desires and priorities in my home and work life.  Isn't that lovely and generous?  Paige knows that moments of retreat like this have proven helpful in the past.  

When she and I both felt stuck workwise in our late 20s, we spent a weekend in western Maryland's quiet countryside and plentiful state parks.  Out of that weekend came my resolution to "build databases for nonprofits".  I knew not how at the time but was hired as Director of Technology Services at the Bayer Center three months later.  Also out of that personal retreat came Paige's march into law school and a successful legal career.  Later, when I'd worked at the Bayer Center for seven years, my boss gave me a "reading week" to get out of the office with a modest travel budget to read, think and refocus.  Some really creative stuff came from my two summer reading weeks before I went part time and lost the privilege. :(

I don't know yet what will come out of this trip.  I picked a "trail town" on the Great Allegheny Passage called Meyersdale.  Not too far away, with a cool place to stay and enough amenities in its postage-stamp downtown, it's a good spot.  Having biked 11 miles from Meyersdale through the Big Savage Tunnel, I composed this post originally in a notebook at a picnic table near what I'm told would have been a marvelous view of the valley if it weren't raining and socked in with fog.    

Riding the trail, rather than pot-holed city street, I'm finding that when the surface is smooth and well-maintained and no other traffic vies for my attention, I can look up and enjoy the surroundings.  It's wonderful to take in the rolling hills, Flaugherty Creek, small farms, the early bursts of fall color here in Pennsylvania maple sugar country (who knew?) and the wildflowers that flank the trail.

Because I'm the sort who sees metaphors in things like that, I hope that the flexibility afforded me by having both boys in school allows me to smooth the surface and direct the traffic flow of our family life that much better.  When we both worked full time with two kids for that one year, we just felt like life was spinning out of control.  We needed some slack in the system to make way for leisure.  My going part time helped a lot.  Grocery shopping and laundry during a few weekdays really frees up evenings and weekends.  At this point, we don't feel a need for slack so urgently, but I greedily want it.  I want more serenity for family time.  I want to say yes to playing catch and table games and reading books.  I want planned dinners, eaten in a timely, unhurried fashion off a table that doesn't have a teetering stack of mail down on the end of it.  

A few months ago, I asked to add another short day a week at work when Teddy went to school.  We couldn't come to terms and now I'm so glad we didn't.  For now, it feels go to focus on making our family life as good as it can be. 

That doesn't sound a definite to me as some of the goals and ideas that have come from previous retreats, but it sounds no less ambitious and no less personal.

1 comment:

Graham said...

I was wondering what the occasion for the interesting FB pics was. I hope the trip went well. Sorry to miss you guys this weekend, look forward to seeing you and the boys.