Posts Tagged ‘work life balance’

About that work-life balance

I have been working way too hard, earning money to pay my bills. I tell you, the hours leave me exhausted! How do people cope with full time work AND fit in all those mandatory household chores such as food shopping, cooking, laundry & cleaning the bathroom?

I can’t seem to do it.

I’m reducing my hours back to three days a week for the coming weeks as an experiment in better work-life management.

I’m hoping to get my kitchen floor mopped; it has been sadly neglected in recent weeks & is getting sticky.


The toilets have been prioritized, as was the gathering of foodstuffs. Doing the laundry just once a week means the weekend is hectic. More so when it rains. Like it did this weekend.

Working just Mon-Wed-Fri may result in changing the bed linens, wouldn’t that be nice? (Lavender oil covers a multitude of sins and debauchery.)


I also need to cut back my hours as the constant typing is having an adverse impact upon the joints in my hands and wrists.

The question will be, will I be able to survive financially on the lesser hours?

I suspect I will learn to cope for I know my body & mind will appreciate the time away from the coalface. And that will make me a lot happier.


Australia’s a great place to live

November 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Just typing off the cuff here. Had planned to do a photo shoot today but not feeling so good today. Instead I’ll chat about retirement. Where to live in retirement, specifically.

My partner’s almost ready to retire.  About 3 or 4 years to go we reckon (global financial crises & their impact on superannuation allowing).  So the question has arisen – where?

We’ve both travelled extensively in Australia and lived in multiple states and territories.  We’ve both done urban, rural and remote areas.  He’s been financially savvy enough in his younger years to have bought & nearly paid off a few houses in Adelaide and Brisbane.  So, worst comes to worst, we could opt for either the South Australian or Queensland capitals, basing our retired lives in the inner urban areas.

Pushed to choose between those two cities, I’d opt for Adelaide. It’s smaller, quieter and has a gorgeous Meditteranean like climate.  With occasional heatwaves.  🙂

More importantly, for me, Adelaide is an arts city. Lots of festivals, great theatre, wondrous music. 2010 sees the biennial Festival of Arts, the Fringe Festival and Womadelaide. That’s just in February-March!

Brisbane is a nice enough city. I particularly like where we own a house. It’s close to the city, close to the river, close to riverside suburbs such as New Farm. But I don’t like the traffic, the growing crowds on the trains and buses, or the noise. As more land is cleared for housing, the more noise from the Gateway Motorway penetrates the older suburbs.

I prefer Adelaide’s shopping. It’s cheaper and where we would live has very easy access to street shopping with a distinctly multicultural flavour. It’s hard to pass by the Italian bakery or the German bakery. Brisbane’s shops are more expensive and there’s no way to avoid the big shopping centres if you want cheap produce. Adelaide’s cost of living is much lower than Brisbane.

Brisbane’s humid. In winter it’s lovely but in summer? Ugh!

No beaches in Brissy. One has to head up or down the coast to the Gold or Sunshine Coasts. With their crowds and traffic chaos. It used to be lovely. Not so anymore.

Adelaide has quaint beaches, reminiscent of English beaches but a lot warmer. And there’s this terrific bike/walking path stretching all along the suburban coastline of the city. That’s a winner.

I wouldn’t be unhappy living in Brisbane if my partner decided that’s where he would love to live. But personally I’m hoping he’ll opt for the city of serial killers and other strange crimes.

But …

I’m not really an urban girl. I prefer the peace and quiet of rural Australia. I don’t want to retire to a remote locality. I’ve spent way too many years living in deserts and other remote areas.

I don’t miss the beach (too much) when away from it so I don’t need a sea change. After all, that would be costly real estate indeed.

I like mountains. There are so many towns in or near the mountains to choose from: Jindabyne, Tumut, Khancoban, Corryong, Richmond (Tasmania), Bright, Mount Beauty, Beechworth.

I’m incredibly taken with Deniliquin, sitting on a small river, with its beautiful, historical buildings. Then there’s Portland (Victoria) on a busy seaport. Or Albany in WA. Esperance. And Strahan, sitting quietly on magnificent Macquarie Harbour in the World Heritage Area.

Tenterfield (NSW) still grabs me with its beauty and friendliness.  Robe, on South Australia’s Limestone Coast is simply gorgeous. Laura (SA), Jamestown (SA) or Melrose (SA). The list of towns goes on.

How does one choose?

Ideally, wherever we choose to live, we would have the income in retirement to constantly travel to all those towns and cities mentioned above.

I suppose, in the end, I shall have to be practical. My (I hesitate to write the word ‘failing’) health will more than likely determine our choice. I will need to have easy access to a hospital and a GP. So be it.

And whilst my partner will be retired and drawing a nice, fat allocated pension (or whatever it’s called nowadays), I will need to work.  Well into my 70s.  As per the government’s dictates.  So I need a reasonable sized town where job prospects are also reasonable.  Or I need to carve myself a new career in the arts.

It does amaze me, the incredibly long list of towns and areas of Australia I can come up with as possible retirement contenders. Shows me just what a truly wonderful country I live in. I am so glad I did return to live here.

Quiet Sundays in the Desert

September 27, 2009 2 comments

I adore quiet Sundays, those days when the neighbourhood is quietly resting, just a few cars driving past but barely disturbing the peace.

My daughter and her lovely partner have departed, their company, whilst unobtrusive, is missed by both myself and my partner.

Then I had to return to work. Full on, short staffed, myriad of things that went wrong and needing fixing. And somehow, the new administrative assistant whom I am supposed to be supporting, she seems to believe that I am the fount of all knowledge of administrative matters for this organisation. The remaining few staff also seem to think I know a lot more than I do. I try to explain that the Administrator (capital ‘A’) is the wondrous fount of knowledge, not I. I point out that I’ve only been working for a few months, and only on certain tasks and no, no, no, a thousand times no, I do not have access to the organisation’s online banking facility or its credit card. So I can’t pay those bills, sorry.

Should be most interesting when the Administrator returns to the office on Tuesday morning. Just in time for the payroll to be done again. And to discover that no, they didn’t end up doing those job interviews they were meant to do two weeks ago. I see task upon task piling up on the Administrator’s desk.

Glad I’m off out of town shortly (again) (yes, I know, can’t tie me down).

Two weeks to go …

July 31, 2009 2 comments

Two weeks to go then my full-time working gig will be complete. It’s been hard yards, very glad next week is a short week (Picnic Day, gotta love the Territory, we have some great public holidays!).

The organisation found a highly qualified person willing to take over my role full time & with “committment” (did I just spell that word wrong? See, I really do have problems with commitments, even with the spelling let alone the concept.)

I’m happy to be looking at the end of the stint. Have enjoyed the work, loved the organisation, pocketed the money. But, the body is suffering so a short holiday is in order. The Road Trip fast approaches and I am soooo looking forward to jumping in to my sister’s car and hitting the New England Highway. 🙂

Sea Changes, Tree Changes

July 13, 2009 1 comment

I seem to be surrounded by people about to relocate their lives, often many thousands of kilometres across the country.

My sister is returning to her old home in Adelaide after spending many years in Sydney and Brisbane. A bout of serious ill health saw her stuck in the Sunshine State for much longer than she’d planned. But now it’s time to move. And, gorgeous creature that she is, she is taking Mother with her. It’s a Very Big Move for Mother. She’s been in Brissy now for around 15 years. Originally there were plentiful extended family members around, now there isn’t.

For my sister, the Move is about re-establishing her arts presence in South Australia, where once she had the honour of being Young South Australian of the Year. These days, apart from her playwriting, she has her film work and her academic career. Most of her networking and job contacts all reside in Adelaide. As do nearly all her friends. Makes sense for her to move.

No actual jobs lined up, apart from an occasional lecture or workshop here and there, but the grand potential is for steadier work and cash flow. She doesn’t own a house, or have a mortgage (she’s an impoverished artist after all), minimal superannuation, little savings. So the Big Move has had to be planned and saved for very carefully.

For Mother, the relocation is about maintaining contact with at least one of her daughters, and the potential to see the other daughter (me) more frequently. It’s also far easier to find affordable seniors housing in South Australia than it is in Queensland. Mother doesn’t own her own home, never has. The long term plan is to help Mother find one of those affordable seniors units in a community housing project or similar.

A journalist friend suddenly found his contract reduced and his cash flow with it. He had no real desire to return to his former career as a teacher, so began researching what technical writing jobs were out there. He’s discovered a lot of those jobs are based in Canberra. Within a few days, he and his wife had made the decision to sell their home in the Gold Coast Hinterland and relocate to the rural areas around Canberra. They hope to be settled in their new home (yet to be found) by August.

The wife, a recently graduated teacher who was unable to find work in her local area, is now hopeful of finding a teaching position in one of the ACT schools. Their son, who they’d been expecting to hold back from starting school until late next year in Qld, will now suddenly find himself a fully-fledge primary school student.

Whilst they’ll sell their home for a profit, they still have a hefty mortgage, and very little super. They do have enough cash flow from the husband’s freelance journalism contracts to see them through a year. Just.

Both have abundant hope and positivity that all will work out well.  As I type, their house is packed up, and they’re in Canberra doing job interviews. They have spent quite a lot of money on travel to and fro from the nation’s capital, with no resulting jobs. So far.

Another person I know is about to do his own Big Move. He grew up in Alice Springs. Now, in his mid-30s, he and his wife have just sold their house and are now house hunting in South Australia’s rural areas looking for their new home. No jobs lined up. But plenty of hope and ideas.

I myself have done the big relocation thing when logic dictated I remain in situ. I walked out with a single suitcase, left the country I’d called home and returned to Australia with nothing.

Starting over can seem overwhelming at times. You’re often beset with worries and anxiety over whether you’ve made the right decision, and is it too late to go back.

I found the stresses of making The Big Move easier to cope with by writing down my original reasons for wanting to move in the first place. And a list of pros and cons about the proposed move.  When you’re excited and brimming with positive energy, take your list of cons and start writing a list of tactics to get around or cope with the possible negative outcomes. Keep hold of these lists. You may want to refer to it when panic sets in. As long as all your reasons for wanting to move are sound, you’re safe. Be buoyed by the list of pros. Take comfort from the pre-planning against the negatives.

Life rarely goes to plan. Things do go wrong. You will cope, you will adapt. Aim for one positive achievement each day. And always, always take time out to find something about the day that makes you smile and fills you with joy and contentment.

For me, that often meant sitting outside, gazing at the mountains, a sunset or the waves lapping at the shore. Sometimes it was a lovely or bizarre conversation with a friendly stranger. Chatting with my partner. Friendly service in a quiet country town. All these had the ability to lift my spirits and fill me with hope, and make me realize it really is great to be alive.

Complications of life

Complications have arisen with my mother’s relocation to Adelaide next month. Mother is elderly, frail and won’t fly. Fair enough. So, relocation by road. She doesn’t drive. That’s what daughters are for. 🙂  Again, fair enough. And it’s very likely that this will be her final trip, so we daughters are more than happy to comply with the request for the Road Trip.And of course, the Sister, being a filmmaker, is using the opportunity to add material to her project. All very good.

My sister is partly disabled and lives with severe, chronic pain. This limits her time sitting in a vehicle (be it a car or a plane). Hence her request for me to join the trip. When my job came up, Sister was happy to continue on organising and assisting Mother. Time has passed, there have been the inevitable delays but now we have definite dates and the house in Adelaide will be clean and ready for Mother & Sister’s occupation in August. I was sadly prepared to drop my participation in the Big Trip in favour of my new job. Now, a complication has arisen.

The Sister’s physical limitations are more severe than first thought. She’s spent some time doing practise driving trips, speaking with her various therapists and doctors. The upshot? The Road Trip goes ahead, as it must. BUT … my presence is now required. I don’t mind. As I said yesterday, it’s a terrific artistic opportunity for various film & writing projects. But now, the pressure’s on me to fly over.

Which all leads to a little re-write on that part of my job application where I declare what holidays & travel I have booked for this year. Tap, tap, tap … a phone call or two … more tap, tap, tap, save. The Tassie trip can be pushed back as late as December if necessary, and the Relocating Mother Road Trip must go ahead in mid-late August. Think I’m pushing my luck with the job? Have a feeling I’ll be relegated to casual pool for the organisation (which is fine and highly acceptable). That’s what I’d do if I were in charge.

Think I’m getting better!

Today, I felt almost human again. It’s been a long & arduous journey but finally I have turned the corner. The virus is retreating, the asthma has settled dramatically, appetite is returning. And I’m not quite so weary. Still a wee bit tired, but that’s to be expected I guess. Will be at work on Monday. I’ll drive, think I may be pushing my luck if I ride the bike.

Missed the Show. That’s a pity.

Did finally get around to completing that job application and deciding what hours I’m prepared to work. Will email that off tomorrow for I know the Administrator will check her work emails on her days off.  Rounded up a referee who wasn’t dead or nowhere to be found.

I seem to be surrounded by people planning Big Road Trips. Had a great chat tonight with a friend who is hoping to spend a few weeks driving from Alice – Melbourne – Brisbane – Sunshine Coast – Alice via the Isa. What a journey!

My sister has bought a car from a trusted friend and is opting to do her Big Road Trip from Brisbane to Adelaide via a leisurely 10 days meandering through NSW and Victoria. I have been invited to join this trip, it’s a wonderful opportunity to record extra stills and video, and reconnoitre some background planning for next year’s driving trips, all to add to a handful of artistic projects currently underway. Some fantastic ideas firing off in my head with this: chronicling recovery, exploring middle-age self-confidence and feminism & then there’s the madcap exploration of Australian genre outback/rural film, fantasies abound. Every person has a story, a journey travelled. Old but true.

Assuming I get the permanent job, I’m not sure I’ll get the time off in August for the Road Trip, but I have asked. I am willing to forgo the trip although I’d dearly love to participate. I have also requested time off work to flit off to Tasmania to see Youngest Born Daughter. My flights cover the same time period as the Administrator’s, but I am happy enough to push my trip back to October and reduce it to 3 weeks. I am not willing to cancel this one. Haven’t seen the Youngest for more than 15 months now. And I am very keen to spend some time exploring the west coast and north-west of the island, the only parts I’ve not yet seen. Tassie’s a lovely spot. Funny, my friend tonight laughed and said “listen to us, here we are, living in the desert, planning detailed trips to luxuriant green landscapes”. 🙂 Time to start thinking about leaving the desert?  <: -)  Maybe in a year or two.