Attempting a balanced life

It's past 11PM on Sunday and I am typing this post from the dining room table, with dye on my hair, and a Korean sheet mask on my face.



While the entire family went to NYC, I've spent most of my Sunday at home (aside from a quick run to Trader Joe's), supposedly working on my classes for next week and a few blogposts, but mostly catching up with my grandmother and some friends who are halfway across the world. And typing a chapter of fiction because the inspiration just struck quite unexpectedly.

In my mind, there are many thoughts swirling at the same time:

1. The fear that I may have forgotten something very important.
2. The pit-in-my-stomach feeling that the week-end went way too fast, and some mild dread at the idea of yet another crazy week ahead.
3. Some regret at the thought that I haven't done everything that was on my to-do list this week-end.
4. Guilt at the fact that I've spent a little too much time allowing an oh-so-kawaï virtual kitten to emotionally blackmail me into playing with her (and some embarrassment when my #MiniDiva of a cousin took a peek at my iPhone screen and declared, "FYI, this is a kids' game you're playing at".)
5. The thought that technology makes us too dissipated and prevents us from focusing on a single thing.
6. The thought that if I don't go to sleep VERY soon, I will be exhausted all day tomorrow.

It's quite funny to consider that unlike all the others bloggers, I didn't quit a day job to become a full-time blogger. It was the opposite, as I recently started a job that comes with much more responsibility and pressure than blogging does.

And I love it. I've said it before, I couldn't be more grateful for such a change in my life. Having a set schedule and getting out of the house did me a lot of good at a time where I desperately needed this kind of regularity in my life, because it helps me think about other things than family problems, heart troubles and friends drama.

And nothing is more rewarding than having students who LOVE French culture, who are more enthusiastic and hard-working than ever, and who actually get to improve their language skills with me.

On the other hand, I won't lie, having a schedule where I sometimes leave home at 7AM to return at 11PM is very though sometimes. One of the biggest adjustments I had to make was getting to sleep at midnight or earlier, and it's something I still am working on.

I hope it doesn't sound like an exaggeration when I say that going to bed early feels like a loss of identity to me. For the last five years, it has been part of my night-time ritual to make herbal tea (or, depending on how much creativity I need, open a bottle of wine), put on an opera, and work on The Novel from 10PM to 2AM approximately, because this is the window of time where my creativity level is at its peak.

But the problem is that I need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function properly, and I cannot afford to be sluggish or exhausted anymore.

And I need to wake up early in the morning. Not because I am a perfect girl who wakes up with the sun, does half an hour of meditation, another half hour of yoga, and then cooks herself a healthy breakfast from scratch and spends another hour pampering herself to look absolutely perfect for the day ahead.

But because I tend to hit my snooze button until I only have literally fifteen minutes left to take a quick shower, get dressed, hop in my car and pray that the traffic is mild, that there is no three-lane-blocking accident, and that I won't have trouble finding a parking space.

Because there's nothing worse than seeing your students walk towards the building before you've even found a bloody parking space.

The Metro in DC not being a viable option, I've very recently found a drastic solution to this problem: renting a parking space in a building next to my work. It is a bit of a splurge but remains less expensive than parking tickets. I will let you know how that goes.

Even health-wise, finding balance has been hard.

Lately, I've been running on an average of eight Nespresso capsules per day, and while I know it isn't a long-term solution, it seems like it's going to be this way for a little while.

Last week, with the somewhat extreme temperature swings, I got my first cold of the Fall 2016 season. And it was a bad cold, one that I fought valiantly all week, but even the Yogi Tea Cold Season I kept drinking wasn't enough. My immune system just gave up, and aside from feeling guilty, I couldn't help but fear that this may get worse once the weather gets even colder.

As to the gym, it has been a while, I'm afraid. I've looked at my schedule and tried to find a slot where I could exercise for half an hour each day, but I realised I would either have to wake up extremely early (and deal with exhaustion starting in the afternoon), or go there after work (and risk not being able to fall asleep because that's what recent studies say about exercising in the evening).

And lastly, my cousins. They won't hesitate to heavily guilt-trip me (they're SO adorable and SO evil) because I can no longer take them out to do their homework at Starbucks after school. I can't even think how it will be once I have kids of my own, but let's say that I tried to redeem myself with endless trips to the mall and by spoiling them tremendously. They're enjoying it, and taking advantage of it quite a lot.

Long story short, I've been considering several short- and long-term solutions, the most important of which involves moving closer to my workplace within the next nine-to-twelve months.

That notion itself comes with its share of question marks:

1. Am I willing to sacrifice certain comforts that I take for granted in Bethesda but that come at a HUGE price inside the beltway? Like parking, a walk-in closet, a washer-and-dryer in-unit, a rooftop deck and swimming pool, a gym, a clubhouse, and mostly a building that is free from pests, bodily fluids, and crazy people who randomly try to force their way into your flat?

2. How would it feel to no longer live ten minutes away from my family? To no longer be able to drop by for a cup of coffee with my aunt in the morning? Would my cousins still be able to come over regularly, or would the longer distances be a deterrent to our relationship, so much that we may become strangers to each other over the years? (Okay, I'm being overly dramatic. Seriously though.)

3. What neighbourhood do I want to live in? What kind of building do I want? Old? New? Would I settle for an English basement? (Probably not, as I become very depressed without enough daylight).

So many question marks, so many things to consider. I won't lie, it does get exhausting at one point to think too much.

I'm still trying to adjust, to build a new routine, all the while knowing there are even bigger changes ahead.

But I try to take things slowly and live in the moment as much as possible. Enjoy the little things, like a cup of delicious tea, a fun conversation with friends, a walk to observe the magnificent fall tree leaves.

Or also the presence of a wonderful relative with whom we have a tradition, during a presidential election year, to watch news coverage and debates while drinking whiskey on ice.

Or the warm shower I will be taking in a minute when I go to rinse off my hair dye!

Love,

S
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