The downside, of course, was that neither job really fit into the every-other-day model. My work at the newspaper was capped at about 100 hours per month, which meant that there was an upper limit on what I could do there. But the quantity of work to be done during those 100 hours was enormous, so that it often felt like the workplace equivalent of drinking out of a fire hydrant. As for the law firm work, the firm clearly thought it had first dibs on all hours not spent at the newspaper (and, frankly, it wanted as many of those as it could get, too). So essentially I was juggling two full-time jobs and doing everything I could to succeed at both while keeping the juggling act as invisible to my various bosses as possible.
All of that changed last week, however, when the secondment ended and I returned to the law firm full time. I continue to work on projects for the newspaper, but I do that from my desk at the firm, and I have the flexibility to slot them into a work list of my other matters. At first it felt strange going to the same office day after day, and I missed my friends at the newspaper. But gradually life at the firm started to feel more normal, and I got back into the rhythm of a new routine.
And boy, the rhythm of this past week was great! With the lessening of the newspaper load, and a surprise lull in other firm projects, the past week went something like this: During the week I worked a roughly 40-hour work week, coming home from work early enough to get some dinner, go running, and then watch some TV before bed. On Saturday I got up early and helped some friends move into a new apartment, got a haircut, went to choir rehearsal (Rossini’s Stabat Mater, for choir 1), practiced music on my own (Forestier’s Missa l’homme arme, for choir 2), organized photos, took a nap, went running, and went to a party with a bunch of friends. Today I did all my hometeaching for the month, got groceries, attended church, took another nap, and went to stake choir practice (a bunch of Mack Wilberg stuff, for choir 3).
It’s no surprise that I feel happier and more grounded at the end of this week than I have felt in a very long time: I haven’t had a week that was this well-balanced between the professional, physical, social, musical, spiritual and personal elements of my life since, well, since I can’t remember when. Last night as I was driving home from the party (at 2am…), I was trying to figure out why I felt so good, and I realized that it was because, for a few days, I’d managed to live a balanced and well-rounded life. It’s like I was a whole different person.
The moral of this story is that I need to strike this sort of balance more often. I probably won’t — at least, not consistently or for prolonged periods of time. I do still work at the law firm. Plus, as you no doubt noticed by the number of choirs I’m currently singing in, I have a knack for over-programming any free time that the firm doesn’t get to first. But this was a refreshing interlude and a good reminder that balance is good and should be a higher priority than I usually make it.