All Work and No Play …

This July I took a couple of days off to do something I love doing. The above picture was taken at Silverstone towards the end of a day's California Superbike School. I was doing Level 1, and whilst I am still not quick (which wasn't the aim!) I am slightly faster, and much more confident in my capability as a rider, and in what any of the bikes I ride can do. Oh, and as you can see was grinning like an ejit having a whale of a time!

This play time was as a direct (if drawn out) result of a rather harsh truth I heard a couple of months back. From my mother.

In the past ...

During my time in the corporate world, I knew that my work didn’t fulfil me in any way. I was sleep walking through life and had drifted into a rat race that was unfulfilling, unrewarding and quite frankly making me question why I should bother even getting out of bed for all the difference I was making. Of course we know the term ‘work life balance’ but I was working at a national law firm in the marketing department which had been restructured 3 times in 2 years. My role had been safe through each and every round, so how could I not be grateful to still have a job? A job that no longer fulfilled me or challenged me, that felt pointless.

I did the only thing I could think to do. I ran away to the sea side for a few of days, stayed in a BnB, walked, ate, slept, and stared out to the horizon. A lot. I found that clearing the cobwebs from my mind opened up some space to breathe, and a phrase was going through my mind.

“Anything would be better than this.”

Over and over and over. For days. It got quite tedious! Back home I told my parents (whom I was living with at the time) that I was going to quit my job. Their reaction was simple and gave me real insight.

“What took you so long?”

This was the first of many times I have taken a couple of days out to disappear, to reassess and make changes.

Work-life balance

Actually for a long time I was actually focusing on my ‘work work balance’, juggling my roles as personal trainer and massage therapist. In astrology terms I was born under the sign of Gemini, the duality of which should mean I was perfectly suited to such a split personality! But it was exhausting, both physically and mentally. When I moved Bristol Massage Therapy to 77a Queen’s Road in September 2014 it was time for a change and I hung up my stopwatch for good. Which was great; for a while.

I had some concept that expanding Bristol Massage Therapy and developing a Centre of Excellence was going to be hard work, but is also something that I am incredibly passionate about. Unfortunately, earlier this year when I was dealing with the landlord, carpets, partition walls, “that place everyone hates to shop” … it really started to get to me. I was feeling stressed out, overwrought and not sleeping properly; I couldn't remember when I'd last exercised; I wasn’t interested in food, merely grabbing the quickest, sweetest thing I could get my hands on; I stopped writing. I also stopped drinking tea and coffee because I was becoming SO jittery. Which is a shame because I love a good cuppa and the occasional coffee.

Some people are lucky enough to have a very powerful relationship with one or both parents. A relationship that  enables the following: a statement made with love, from a place of love, can be a sucker punch to the gut (or more of cricket bat to the head), but is still received with love. My dawning realisation that work was consuming me came when my mother told me a very harsh reality:

“All work and no play will make you a very dull girl”.

I do hate it when the truth hurts … even more so when she’s right again! It’s true, it had made me a very dull girl. Not that the focus on work wasn’t worthwhile - of course it was. I am expanding the Bristol Massage Therapy brand, interviewing, selecting and introducing some of the very best massage therapists Bristol has to offer. But there are only so many times you can go to “that place everyone hates to shop” without loosing a small (or large) chunk of your soul. Somehow I’d developed my very own rat race. I needed a break, and I needed a change.

Don't just take my opinion

Anyone who regularly reads my musings will know that I am a huge fan of TEDTalks, and I recently came across one by Nigel Marsh from 2010 called “How to make work-life balance work”. In it he really hits the nail on the head:

“the reality of the society that we're in is there are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don't need to impress people they don't like.

It's my contention that going to work on Friday in jeans and T-shirt isn't really getting to the nub of the issue.”

I was incredibly lucky to identify my need to leave that corporate job, and to be in supportive environment to enable this to happen. But on each and every step since that day I have realised that whether it is Making Hard Choices, or Following Dreams, I am the master of my own destiny. In his talk Nigel talked about our personal responsibility for setting the boundaries that we want in our life.

Even for those people who don’t have children and are not directly impacted by the school holidays, there is a noticeable shift from routine in July and August, we all know people disappear on breaks more often, the lighter longer days encourage people to be more social. So, small gaps appear in my diary, and following Nigel’s advice about setting some boundaries, I made some proactive decisions.

Some excitement for the future

I've taken a few days off to learn how to ride my motorbike more precisely and safely, before taking a week to go touring in Europe. In a year when I said I wouldn’t do any more courses, I signed up to a short course in Deep Massage (differs from Deep Tissue Massage). Rather than working every Saturday I will be opening up appointments on a monthly basis so that I am no longer working 6 days per week every week. I realised that even though I have been a personal trainer in a gym, I hate gyms so have started to add into my schedule some exercise, outside, with an instructor and other people. It rained the first week. I loved it. It drizzled the second week and I still loved it.

All work and no play didn’t just make me a dull girl, it made me an unhappy girl. I hope against hope that this wasn’t evident to you. Some of these changes will benefit my work, my practice and Bristol Massage Therapy as a whole. All of these changes will benefit me, my health, my wellbeing, and my happiness. They may not all be lasting changes (I don't ride so much in the winter for a start), but I've made some important discoveries about myself again. Rest assured … I’m back in the game, and back writing again ... with this article being the first of hopefully many more to come over the next couple of months.