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Integrating Work and Home

I have been pondering integration in so many different ways the last two years. Spirit says to me ‘integration, integration, integration’ and it often comes up in sessions I do with others. It’s all about having access to all parts of yourself, not shunning or denying any parts, claiming your gifts, owning your greatness and accepting all of yourself…it is about being at choice.  It is also about knowing deeply that we are all one, so whatever gifts and talents you see ‘out there’ in the world, are also part of you….and so are the shadows. And it is all good.

My latest integration lens is around my consulting work and family life. I have a 25-year environmental consulting career. I am lucky enough to be a teleworker, meaning I work from my house, for a global organization that I deeply respect…and am very grateful to work for. Because I touch project teams all over the world, my day can span much more than a typical 8 hours. I also have three children I adore…with all the wants and needs of children age 5-11. Since I have worked from home for years, I have had plenty of opportunities to consider what is appropriate work/life balance….what message does it send the kids when I am emailing or texting while also making dinner and hearing about their day. I often check my email on my phone before even putting my feet on the floor in the morning…and it is usually the last thing I check at night.

I have turned this around in all different ways in my mind…sometimes thinking I am a fabulous multi-tasker and sometimes thinking I am the worst mother on Earth. Mostly, though, I try to think about why I am doing what I am doing when I am doing it…as opposed to just reacting to the triggers in my life. I was raised in a traditional home where, early in my life, my father worked and my mother was home. When dad got home from work there was no work talk nor phone calls nor paperwork….Dad never ‘brought work home’. That was considered inappropriate. There was a clear division between work and home life. I often hear people talk about ‘not talking about work’ in this or that setting…even though it is clear that people often want to talk about their work.

Here is where I am landing (for now!)…and it is pretty exciting to me. If I am truly integrated in this arena, there is no need to draw lines and boundaries. I AM all these things…and more. And I can live in the flow of whatever is happening. There is no time that I stop being a consultant and start being a mother…and no time that I stop being a mother, for sure. I AM WHAT I AM…all the time.  Somehow, that perspective is helpful…and very different from the messaging I have heard most of my life.

I think of an artist. An artist doesn’t stop being an artist ‘after 5 o’clock.’ The very idea that they would stop the flow of creativity, stop applying creativity to all aspects of life, is absurd…and certainly wouldn’t make for a better world. A healer can’t stop being a healer because they are technically ‘off the clock’. Then it occurred to me — artists and healers are people who love their jobs! They are not trying to get way from them….to turn them off…their jobs are an expression of who they are. Hmmm…now I am really getting excited. So, if I am in a job that I love, somehow it seems completely natural to let that flow into my entire life. Perhaps this whole need to compartmentalize work was because people were doing jobs they didn’t like. And, of course, while this belief about work needing to ‘stay at work’ was developing, the workforce was mostly men…and it is very male to compartmentalize, divide, draw boundaries, etc.

All this is pointing me to a few things: 1) I want to have a job I love enough that I am happy for it to spill over into all of my life 2) If I don’t have that job, I need to change my relationship to the job I have or get a new job! 3) I can free up all that mental space second-guessing myself, asking if I am a good worker/a good mother and just let it flow as it does.

NOTE: While integrating these aspects of my life is very helpful to me, and seems like another stop on the continuum to being a fully integrated person, I still need to ensure that I am consciously choosing where I put my focus moment to moment. Integrating my consulting work and my home life, does not mean that I want to be responding to a non-time-critical email while my daughter its telling me about Peter Pan play practice. On the other hand, if a critical work need arises in the evening, I need to tell my kids that I need AND WANT to respond. Similarly, if I am on a work call and one of the kids need to ask me a question, I can simply ask the work call to hold a minute. I am at choice, always…no one is ‘making’ me do anything. Where I choose to put my attention is a reflection of me . I need to make sure I stay in my power, moment by moment…and do not just react to circumstances around me. THAT is a different post.