Recently I’ve been experiencing an unsettled feeling. Not unsettled as in ‘unhappy where I am’ but unsettled as in ‘unable to settle’. I think this might be down to a lack of life rhythm.
My niece, Maggie, was born 10 years ago today. At that time, my life had been running on a relatively-unchanged schedule for 10 years, and would follow a similar pattern for another 5.
Each Monday to Friday, I went to work in an office in the West End of Edinburgh from 8.30am to 5pm. Actually to begin with it was 9am to 5. During one memorable appraisal, my boss pointed out to me the helpfulness of arriving at work slightly earlier than that so that I was ready to *start* work at 9, rather than rolling in “around” 9…
At some point I decided I might as well come in around 8.30 to get a head start on the day, and so that became my regular routine. Some time later, out of curiosity, I dug out my contract, and was somewhat taken aback to see that it stipulated an 8am start every day. But I successfully kept that quiet for another 10 years 🙂
Largely, though, my routine went undisturbed. I moved house a few times. Bought a flat. Sold it. Bought another one. Evening activities came and went. Once-per-month Saturday morning work became a fixture. Cricket, during the summer months (in Scotland this requires some definition – I mean May through August), occupied my Saturdays whenever it wasn’t raining, or even sometimes when it was. Sundays, my day off, involved going to church once or twice, initially in one part of town, now in another.
However, the working week was the maypole around which the evening and weekend activities danced.
Now this has changed.
On returning from the States in May 2014, I spent a few months unemployed. Then started my own business selling custom earplugs and IEMs. Began teaching piano. In the autumn of 2014 I found work in a lovely café in the north of Edinburgh, and some routine was established. Working hours fluctuated a little, but were reasonably predictable. Sunday was still my day off, but Monday also offered some time to reflect and be still.
In early 2016, the seasons shifted. I quit the café and took up part-time employment with my church. Immediately Sundays were lost as a day off. This, of course, was not unexpected, but has taken a while to get used to, and I’m not sure I’m there yet. Fridays became my day off – my Sabbath, if you will – and it took a while to reset my internal clock to expect a day of rest at that point in the week.
Meanwhile my piano students had multiplied to 12 per week, at various times of the day, but mostly early evenings.
The demands of my church employment meant an increase in working hours in August, and then at the beginning of this month they increased again, such that my role is now full-time. Aware of the increased time constraints full-time works would bring, I shelved roughly half of my piano lessons at the end of 2016.
The break over Christmas and New Year a few weeks back threw me for a loop. I had two weeks off, and they were entirely devoid of structure and routine. After two weeks off, I couldn’t wait to get back to work. I realised I was craving some routine again.
Tuesday has now become my day off. Having only had 2 Tuesday-Sabbaths so far, I have still not found a repeatable weekly rhythm. In addition, a couple of weeks of full-time work has been enough to bring a realisation that my current weekly schedule has pretty much eliminated the opportunity to live with the rhythm of rest.
I should mention that the the things that have upset my schedule on a grand scale (two years in the US, and two years of a ‘portfolio’ career here) have brought me more life than I thought was possible. I am not complaining. Just trying to find a rhythm.
Accordingly, I have taken the difficult decision to walk away from my remaining piano lessons. I will miss the teaching, and the students, but the truth is that my future is not in piano teaching. A wonderful talk from Sue Eldridge at our recent ESST retreat was a timely reminder that I need to be pursuing what matters, to remain focussed on the goal… on what God has called me to. And whatever that is, it’s not piano teaching.
I need to get some midweek rest back in my schedule. Restarting this blog has been an attempt to rediscover something that gave me life, and forces me to sit, reflect and write. I need time and space for creativity – writing, songwriting. For so long I’ve had that time built-in to my schedule, because I was working part-time. Now I have to take active steps to create time and space for it. Losing the piano-teaching income was something to consider, but God has made sure I’ve always lived abundantly, and that isn’t going to change. He’s too good.
I don’t think I realised how much impact a weekly rhythm has on my sense of contentment and living a settled life.
How do shift workers manage it? I have no idea.
Does everyone find this to be true in their lives? I have no idea about that either.
Welcome your comments…