When I left the corporate world, I had to abandon one of my favorite aspects of working in an office: the camaraderie and social aspect of a job. So, it should come as no surprise that one of the hardest parts of the past eleven months has been adjusting to a daily routine without the interaction of colleagues.
I’ve found a way, however, to keep myself busy with odds and ends; things like grocery shopping, going to the library, dropping off or picking up from school, keeping the house neat, or whatever other random errands are needed. Aside from these smaller things, I’ve noticed three areas that I deem significant where I’ve seen some wonderful benefits.
Until recently, I’d been much more concerned about my financial health than my physical health. I’d had my share of gym memberships in the past, but I always got bored with it after a little while. It became easy to avoid because I’d never want to deal with driving there, finding a parking spot, waiting on equipment, or whatever other reason I came up with. Not only that, I’d justify canceling a membership in order to save the money.
Now that I’m 41, I’ve taken a little bit of a different angle on the whole thing. Given that I work from home, there is no excuse for me not getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. I tried running before, and it just messed up my knees, and I’m not a big fan of push-ups and sit-ups, so I’ve started walking 30 minutes a day. It’s something that I should (hopefully) be able to continue when I’m older, and the best part is that it doesn’t cost a dime!
Aside from the obvious health benefits of walking, I use walking as an opportunity to enjoy some quiet time to myself (I skip the music when I walk), take in the sights and sounds of nature, clear my head of worry, practice my square breathing, and generally just let different ideas bounce around in my head for a while. I get to see other neighbors out and about and catch up with them. I feel better after I’ve walked, my attitude is better, and I’m hopefully starting to drive down the bad cholesterol and triglyceride numbers my doctor has been on me about!
And if getting used to walking now can help save me money on the projected astronomical costs of healthcare in retirement, then even better!
The errands above notwithstanding, I’ve enjoyed the flexibility in my schedule that enables me to volunteer even more time at our son’s school. I was able to work the book fair recently and will be speaking to his class in a few weeks about being smart with money. Practices for the upcoming basketball season started yesterday, and I’ll be helping the coach run those (think glorified cat-herding). I know for a fact that when I’m older that I’ll look back and realize nothing can replace these opportunities.
This last one has been particularly fun for me because I think I’ve been able to somewhat pleasantly surprise myself! As part of helping around the house, I’ve taken more responsibility for dinner prep and cooking. I’ve improved my timing (definitely the hardest part of cooking multiple things at once), and I’ve become one hell of a shopper! I know which stores have the best prices on different things, and I’ve learned my way around all of them.
Below are a few of our favorite recipes. They’re all fairly healthy and are super easy to make. If you enjoy carbs like I do, I’m a big fan of yellow rice and would recommend it with any of these.
Mexican Zucchini and Beef Skillet
Sweet Potato and Pineapple Turkey Bowl
I’ve also gotten really good at a breakfast casserole that was sent to me by a friend. It’s in a Word document, and I can’t find it online, but I’ll be happy to forward along if you’re interested!
So, yeah, I miss the people that you get to know in an office, but it’s all about perspective. I’ve made some positive changes and discovered things about myself that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.