A few months ago I attended a professional conference with the typical uber-energetic keynote speaker. I enjoyed his presentation, however, he said something that has stuck with me: Plan your life around the people who will be crying at your funeral because the next day, your job will be posted online. A hard fact to face for those of us who invest so much of our lives in our work, but oh so true.
When I took this job to open a new hotel, I knew the commitment would be more than with any job I’d had in the past. Getting a new enterprise up and running from scratch is no easy task. And in the eight months between taking the job and the official opening of the hotel in 2008, the economy fell apart on an epic scale. In any business, when times are tough, all fingers point to the sales department for solutions, so to say that the pressure was on would be an understatement. As a team we’ve worked and scraped and hustled and are now, three years later, finally feeling like it’s beginning to pay off.
In the end though, there are only so many hours in a day and as my priorities have shifted, so has everyone else around me. We used to entertain a regular group of friends at our home almost weekly but in the past few years its dwindled to our friends who know that sometimes I come home late, put on my sweats and just order a pizza. My family invites me to things but now says, “We understand if you’re tired and can’t make it,” and my husband has picked up archery as a hobby to keep himself busy since I often times don’t make it home until after dark.
That’s one of the reasons this sabbatical has been so important—to let me spend time with the people I love who also love to be with me. This weekend will be spent with my husband’s family, which gathers in June every year to remember his grandmother, who passed away six years ago this month. She was the center of his big, extended family and, although she worked outside the home (an actual Rosie the Riveter during WWII) her family was her world and the passing of time has not made us miss her any less.
But as we leave town to be with my husband’s side of the family, my mind is with mine. My own grandmother is back in the hospital for the second time in two weeks. I’m glad that over the past year, I’ve taken time out of my busy schedule to have coffee with her every Monday morning. Although we only have less than an hour together each week, it gives us time to chat about our lives and it’s rare that we talk about my work. Instead it’s family, farming, bees (she and my grandpa kept them, too) and all the advice I can stand. She likes to complain that my generation believes that we can have it all—family, career, friends—but that in the end, we’ll just be sorely disappointed at how hard we had to work to get it all. In this period of time that I’ve had to truly break from my work life, I’m beginning to see her point. I will forever be grateful to my work family for giving me this time to reconnect with my real family and remember what’s most important in my life.
Amy Dempster is on sabbatical from her job as director of sales at The Citizen Hotel, a Joie de Vivre Hotel. You can find more information about her work at The Lamm Farm here.