We spent a week at the beach, had a weekend to unpack and do laundry and shop for food, and then boom – back to work for full days starting Monday. New employee bright and early. Wading through the mail pile. Finishing assignments that had been waiting.

And meetings. So many meetings. I try not to overpack my days but when you go from sitting on the sand for six hours straight, a beach-read in your hands and the waves crashing over and over again in front of you, it’s a stretch to jump into even one meeting per day, let alone two, three, four.

So it’s Wednesday and I’ve had two very full work days where I’ve accomplished. I feel good about what we’ve achieved. The team is in high gear. We started Monday with cake and today, there are bright flowers on a desk. Life is good. Life is full. Life is brimming over.

And yet, I’m tired. I don’t want to be stuck inside all day every day. I don’t want to gasp at snippets of fresh air through my open window.

I know we live in an world where we work-work-work, rising in the semi-dark to check our smartphones immediately and race out the door, buttered toast tipping out of our mouths as we slam the door. I know that’s the expectation. I just don’t think it’s my vision for the life I am building.

Since I have worked for myself since 1998, I can tell you that I get more done when it’s all on my shoulders, and in a shorter amount of time. I feel a greater sense of accomplishment because I’m not punching a clock. And yes, that means that sometimes I’m working weekends or late nights just to get stuff done.

But I take the beach vacation when I want to because I’m the boss. It begins and ends with me. I can work or not work and I’ll achieve or not depending on my drive and my efforts.

So here’s what I propose: no two full work days in a row. Plain and simple – if I work one long day, start the next day later and end it sooner. As soon as the kids are back to school, I’m returning to my 10 am start time for work days, so I can swim or do yoga or just sit with myself for a bit and enjoy the silence.

More time in nature. No question about the importance of that! Walks under tree cover, traversing trails at Cranbrook in the early morning, staring out at a local lake and listening to the undulations of the water.

Baking muffins in the early morning so my children rise to the taste of homemade nurturing and local flavor. Dinners altogether around the table, talking about our day, or about nothing of import, just being together.

Yesterday, I reconnected with an old friend who reminded me the importance of paying myself first. Not just monetarily – but in the gift of things I love to do, activities that feed me. Writing. Work on that new book, get it done, get it to the publisher. Even if it’s not a moneymaker, it’s the work of my soul and it can’t take a back seat.

Today I had the house all to myself in the morning quiet. And still, I felt rushed, like I couldn’t take the time I needed or wanted to just be and do nothing. I got to work, fired up my computer. The music plays. Questions fly.

We have a lunch meeting, then a 2 o’clock, then I get the kids. So the day will be tighter, a reprieve. I can sit and listen to the breathing of my children, the pitter-patter of their dreams under foot.

Tomorrow: a work morning and then an afternoon of baking with my talented daughter. Friday: another half day and an afternoon with the kids. Not even sure yet what’s in the plans.

Time is fleeting so we have to grab it while we can, hold on with those sticky fingers to the moments that matter. We can’t waste even one minute in worry or fear, and I for one am sick of being the hamster on the wheel, running fast and getting nowhere. It’s no way to live and frankly, it’s not the secret to success.

Look around the world at the way other countries operate. Long siestas midday. Eating seasonally. Starting careers with six weeks of paid holiday. Smaller houses, bigger lives. Less income, more richness.

I’d say we start learning from those who have life satisfaction and stop replicating a pattern that is killing us. I don’t need millions to be happy. I do need time. Love. Compassion. Passion.

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