Hey there! Y’all know that for a blog, this doesn’t contain that many posts about my private life. But today, I wanted to talk about my work life. A few of my readers know more details about this, but I’d like to keep things vague, if you don’t mind.

About a year and a half ago, I pitched a business idea to a company in another city, and by springtime of this year, it was very definitely a real new business. I was working remotely for them, via conference calls and lots of emails.

Here are the upsides to this new development:

Everyone I work with is great. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what they would be like, because I didn’t know them. Besides, I’m in Kansas City, and they’re in a big city. But they all have good ideas, they’re supportive, and they’re all-around fantastic.

It’s exciting. Things move fast, and I’m always learning new things.

Here is a downside.

I’ve been working all the time.

Sometimes I’d get up at 4 and start to work. Usually I would work after dinner, and sometimes late into the night. A few times, I worked all night (thanks, Diet Mountain Dew!)

Obviously, I worked Saturdays and Sundays.

 

 

Now, I am no stranger to hard work. In my junior and senior year of high school, I worked 30+ hours a week at the library during the school year (4:30 – 9 pm weekdays, Saturdays, and some Sunday afternoons) to save up money for college, while also getting great grades to get scholarships for college.

In college and grad school, I always worked. For one grim period, I would finish my cocktail waitress shift at 2 a.m., show up at the bakery at 4 a.m. to start making muffins, and at 9 a.m., I’d go to my first college class. (Sadly, I was fired from the bakery because my muffins weren’t all exactly the same size. Hey, I was sleepy. I tried.)

I also did the usual stint at McDonalds…

Modeled for artists…

Cleaned floors and toilets at a Mexican restaurant…

Waited tables at a breakfast restaurant called The Good Egg that was, more often than not, out of eggs…

Worked at a thrift store for below minimum wage…

And asked people in malls to take surveys (by far the worst of these jobs.)

 

Since I’d worked hard at many jobs before, I thought everything was fine this year. I felt mentally healthy. Sometimes I’d get discouraged, but even then, I didn’t feel down about myself. Other times, I felt fairly upbeat.

So I really didn’t have any worries until my heart started misbehaving.

Two or three times a day, my heart would race and/or beat irregularly. Each time would last about an hour. For a few weeks, I barely even noticed — I was busy. Finally, I mentioned it to Mr. Donovan, who demanded that I call the doctor.

So I did. I asked my doctor, who I’ve been seeing for 25 years or so, “This isn’t anything serious, right?” He felt it might be very serious, and scheduled me to come in a get a heart monitor to wear.

This shocked me. I’ve always been super healthy. They don’t let unhealthy people donate kidneys to strangers, like I did a few years ago. I had an EKG and a stress test then, and everything was fine.

When I thought about the possibility that I might actually be damaging my heart, I was appalled.

I immediately cut back on my hours. Fortunately, I’ve been able to outsource a couple of time-consuming tasks. I stopped working after 7 p.m., and last weekend, I had both Saturday and Sunday off.

Already, my heart is acting more normally.

 

 

The truth is, even though I’ve had times where I had to work a lot to get by, I’ve never believed in being a workaholic. I’ve always felt like having time to read, write, and enjoy life was what made life worth living.

In this case, I think I felt a huge responsibility because I’d proposed the business, and I was worried about it succeeding.

In fact, I think that worrying about it more or less constantly was at least as much of a problem as the actual hours. It would have been less stressful to work all of those hours at a regular job.

I’m still worried about the business, honestly, but I’m a lot more concerned about being healthy.

I’m posting this mostly to remind myself that I can’t slip back into this obsession. I think it’s easy to confuse long hours with virtue — and that’s especially true if you grew up in the Midwest with a working-class background, like me. But life is too short to work all the time, and I’m especially not going to risk making it shorter.

Have you had times in your life where you were over-worked, over-worried, or both? Are you going through one of those times now? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading, and hopefully I’ll have more time for blogging! This blog is one of my favorite things in the world to do, and it would feel good to be back in the swing of it again.

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