Don’t let pain keep you out of the garden.
– Welwyn Wilton Katz, Canadian author
Last Monday, I had no idea that I would be working that following weekend, making it the seventh weekend in a row. For the second Friday in a row, late in the afternoon, I received an e-mail from a client containing extensive comments to a white paper draft, warranting a major revision. To say that I was disappointed was a major understatement. I didn’t want to sink into despair, though I could feel myself get pulled down as if by quicksand. I was going to an event Friday evening and I had dinner plans on Sunday evening. My fear was that another working weekend was going to keep me from enjoying the company of friends. I was bound and determined not to let that happen.
So here’s what I did. I made a short list of what I absolutely had to get done by Monday morning: a minor revision, a major revision, and a first draft of a short paper. I decided to give myself the entire Friday evening off. Saturday morning I would start with the minor revision and work my way through the major revision, the most difficult of the tasks. And then Sunday I would write the draft and celebrate with my planned dinner. Having a plan helped to make what seemed insurmountable achievable.
Given what I had ahead of me, it was difficult at first for me to shake the work from my shoulders when I quit work Friday afternoon. When my friend Raissa and my daughter, Isabella, and I headed over to Corte Madera for the opening of the petite shop within the clothing store Anthropologie, I was still thinking about those comments. Once we leisurely walked around the outdoor shopping mall and sat and talked before the event started, I became more relaxed. And then, of course, once we walked into one of my favorite stores, worries about work stayed outside the door.
L.A.-based designer Corey Lynn Calter was on hand to open the new shop, which featured her line of clothes. She poured wine and champagne and chatted with the customers. She was amiable and very down to earth. I was able to spend time talking with Amy, from corporate headquarters in Philadelphia, who was one of the liaisons for a consumer group they headed up a few years ago. Amy was the liaison for the women from the western region of the country, which included me. I’ve been lucky enough to see her at some of the events in the San Francisco store since the group disbanded. It was great to see her and the store, given that I’d been away for a while, too busy with work. Instead of me working once we got home, we had a nightcap with our friends, which further relaxed me and prepared me for the work ahead.
Saturday was torturous, but I plowed through. When you get through a tough project or hurdle or problem, you feel a great sense of accomplishment. I persevered. By the evening, I was able to treat myself to working on a chapter of my novel for a couple of hours. In the morning, I was rewarded with a beautiful backyard scene of the morning sun streaking through the magnolia tree leaves. It was a moment that reminded me that there is beauty and joy when you least expect it, when you aren’t looking for it. And when you receive this gift, you accept it with gratitude and wear it like a cozy sweater.
With the tough project out of the way, I found energy to write the draft of the short paper on Sunday. I finished it in time for my family and me to head down to Los Altos and have a fall dinner with my college roommates, Susie, and Susan and her family, who hosted. We were also celebrating Susie’s October birthday. We have known each other since 1982 – 31 years! Good friends, good food and wine, good conversation. It doesn’t get any better than that.
We got home a little late, but I’m fully relaxed and ready to start the week. Spending time with friends helped me find the joy in the working weekend. A working weekend with a happy ending on a late Sunday evening, right? Well, I flipped on my laptop when we got home and there was an e-mail waiting for me: An internal disagreement ensued between the person who approved of my draft and the person who wrote the extensive editorial comments, and the end result was for me to leave the draft as is and consider it final from the client’s end. A wasted Saturday? Lost energy being too proactive and working right away on the revision? I breathed deeply and told myself: This is another one of those character-building moments.