It was dark as she left the office, the wind chill as she zipped up her collar, and the puddles on the road alive with falling rain.
Squinting ahead through the smear of the wipers into the glare of oncoming vehicles, her eyeballs felt sore as the heavy lids scraped over them. She had been up since 5am, and barely slept the night before; too much on her mind. Despite the length of the day, she still hadn’t come close to getting everything done. Her brain stacked up the undone tasks and added them to her list for tomorrow.
There were a few she would have to do tonight, dammit, with the financial deadline hanging over her. Checking the clock, she saw she might just make her gym class. She hadn’t eaten since 10am, and reached one handed into her bag, seeking out a protein bar. If she didn’t eat, she would collapse. If she did, she might puke. But she had to work out, or she would become one of the sedentary examples of management who sat flaccidly in their chairs, shapeless, waxen and unhealthy. But goodness knows, the punishing schedule diminished both energy and desire to do anything other than eat and fall into bed.
“Going to gym!” she insisted, sitting up and gripping the steering wheel determinedly.
Her legs were shaking as she climbed back into her car, post-workout.
“Need that approval email asap,” said the incoming text on her phone.
“Dammit! I can’t believe I didn’t send it! How did I forget?”
But she was forgetting a lot of things recently; they were just falling out of her head as soon as they were said.
She clenched her jaw, deciding the next workout she did would be muay thai, where she got to kick and punch the hell out of focus pads; she needed the outlet from these demanding jerks. Quickly she scrolled to her draft email which had been left abandoned as she was pulled into the final emergency meeting of the day. Swiftly she keyed the last line and forwarded. Then she sighed, seeing the other urgent emails which had landed during her journey home. Why was everything on fire?
“Huh, probably because we’re so under resourced,” she grunted, grumpily. “And guess what I’ll get at the end of the year? An under-inflation pay increase.”
She glowered at the screen of her phone. What was she doing? She had been tackling emails in the parking lot of the gym for the last twenty minutes! She had to go home!
The building was dark as she pulled into the driveway. Another power cut, dammit. What was wrong with this place?
In the wavering light from her candle, she could see Warlock – the stray cat she had befriended – sitting on the chair on the balcony, even blacker than usual, bedraggled from the rain. She pulled open the back door and he scuttled in as she lit more candles. She rubbed him down with the towel, as he purred, and swatted at her playfully. Then, as he descended hungrily on the bowl of scraps she put out for him, she opened her laptop once again, its cold light filling the room. Her head ached as she looked at the spreadsheet again. 8:31pm.
She still had to respond to a number of personal emails; evenings were the only possible time. Dammit, no wifi. She’d have to hotspot, assuming her phone battery lived up to the challenge. When was her life going to get a look in?
She sighed. The report in front of her was as good as it was going to get. She hit send and scanned the stack in her inbox.
“COST REPORT ISSUE” read the header of one.
She slammed the screen shut. Financial reporting could definitely go to hell that night.
Warlock mewed and writhed around her foot, nibbling at her ankle. She stooped to rub his ears, and then opened the fridge, carefully extricating her foot from the cat’s grip.
“Wine!” she said aloud, grabbing a bottle of chardonnay. “That’ll do for dinner. Since I can’t cook a damn thing,” she added under her breath.
She couldn’t focus on the words in her book. Why was she so tired? Oh yes, aside from the fact she was reading in candle light, the main reasons were sleepless nights, the stress, no eating routine, and the lack of pleasurable social life. There it was. What’s more her throat felt like she was swallowing razor wire; but she didn’t have time to be ill!
The construct of the system of modern western life made no sense. There was no time to be a human; no time for pleasure; no time to do the things she loved doing. All the time was sucked by the insatiable job to feed the hungry mortgage on an apartment that stood empty day in, day out, because she was always at work Everyone was running on a ridiculous wheel, doing something which kept them captive, unable to truly express themselves or have sufficient time off to do the things they wanted to…or see their family at Christmas, she thought begrudgingly. Why did it have to be like this? Maybe she should just quit her job and go live in smaller place or a cheaper country?
But then she’d be poor and stressed about basic needs, unable to travel or do the things she enjoyed. She’d been there and didn’t want that again. She shuddered, loathing the patriarchal monetary system, but too tired to think her way out of it.
The end of the year was coming, and she was determined that next year would be different... She wasn't sure how, but it would!
Make 2020 a year of self-care; instill some boundaries with other people and your employer. Carve out personal time, spend time in nature, get a massage, reiki, or go to yoga. Treat your body as a shrine; feed and water it, treat it well.
Accept yourself as you are, and get rid of negative self-talk.
Be honest with yourself and others, and cease to make fear-based decisions – Do what you feel is right, not what you think will create less pain for you. Purge things you no longer need and create space in your personal habitat.
Adopt even a few of these things into your life, and you may be surprised at the changes.
The difference starts with you.