I have seen people worked to death but I am still scared of an empty calendar

I have seen people worked to death but I am still scared of an empty calendar: to move


People admire my hard wok and dedication. There is no debate as to my quality of work and the number of work-related miracles I preform. However, there are some individuals (usually the lazy one, oops did I say that?) that get upset to see my emails at all times of the day. They are upset because it upsets their vision of themselves. They feel pressured to work hard. That is literally what I have been told. It makes them feel bad when they see that other people are working hard at all hours of the night and they are sleeping comfortably.   Mind you, they do not feel bad enough to help.   Undoubtedly, it’s all about self-preservation.



Speaking of which. I have been psychologically hit hard the last few years seeing two work colleagues literally work themselves to death.   I believe in a strong work ethic and doing my best, yet I cannot condone working so hard that death comes knocking. The two individuals that I know stayed at work at all hours of the night. One basically lived at the office. I remember the night before I gave birth I was on the phone with him till 10pm working on a grant. Then I started seeing dots before my eyes and went into labor. He continued to work through that night and many more. A year later I was celebrating my son’s birthday and mourning my colleague’s passing. Years later another colleague dies alone at home tired and slumped over in his television-viewing chair. Repeatedly he had noted the job was killing him. Yet he never took his own claims to heart.



I have not a single doubt in my body that these two individuals’ lives were cut short. I understand that health and family come first. Have to come first. Yet, when I look at that calendar there is also fear.



Joan Rivers, who was a simple girl according to her twitter account, noted in her documentary A Piece of Work, that if you wanna experience fear look at an empty calendar.    Up until the night before she went into a coma she was performing on stage.   She was doing what she loved and what drove her forward in life. She couldn’t stand still. Nor could she just not do anything. She was not afraid of being booed or having to keep getting up on stage. She was afraid of a blank calendar which served as an indicator of being forgotten, not being funny anymore and not being in demand.



I look at my calendar that is filled with endless, and at times meaningless, meetings and catch my breath. It is a heavy burden to have such a filled calendar. I have meetings, countless business trips back to back and then I have family/household events such as early school dismissal, another kid’s birthday party and the replacement of the water meter. On top of that I have over 60,000 emails in my inbox and tons of Facebook inbox requests (which I more or less ignore). At times I literally have to schedule a 20-minute restroom break to get through the rest of the day. I take phone calls while walking to the train station or taking a bath. No moment appears to fee of the possibility of being free. That is frightening. Yet, the opposite would also be true. An empty calendar can bring about disappointment and reflections as to what to do and how to stay in demand.   Many of my business trips are not necessarily to meet with “clients” but are because someone asked me to do a presentation reflecting my noted expertise. Those invites indicate that I am relevant.


So where does one draw the line between a full and an empty calendar? Obviously, once that full calendar starts taking a toll on the body one has to take a step back. A executive recently quit his job after his daughter wrote him a letter noting the over-20 major milestones in her life that he had missed.   Of course, he was already a millionaire many times over and could afford to quit his job. It’s a vicious cycle, ain’t it not? If you do a google search on how to balance work and family about 6,190,000 results come up in 12 seconds. Of course, a big chunk are top ten lists for working moms. A whole bunch of phewy, if you ask me.   Don’t answer emails at home, take 20 minutes everyday to read to your child and so on. Basically, no real solutions in this ever-constantly connected world.   Can I also note that if you google how to solve world hunger about 5,330,000 results and one of the top posts is by montsanto. If you have to google to find a fundamental life problem –that is your first problem.



When I work from home and my son does not have school, we turn my work into a family meeting, of sorts. I ask him for his advice on certain work issues and I explain what I am doing. His six years of life experience actually come quite in handy. I say to him “I’m tired of working on this” He answers “take a nap.” I tell him people start their own fires at work and go crazy truing to put them out he answers “they should just go to the bathroom and then leave.”   Sounds good to me.



As for my busy calendar, I check in with him and explain my trips. He watches me on live webcasts when possible. He is not too impressed. Ben Ten has a lot more internet appearances than I do. But he gets it, somewhat. One thing I have fairly clear is that I cannot miss major milestones. I work my schedule around his first day of school, his birthday week is blocked off on my calendar and I don’t miss a stage performance. Those milestones you truly don’t get to repeat.   That’s where you draw the lien between an empty calendar and making a name for oneself.


At the end of the day you want to soar and move like an eagle and land gently on the earth while leaving a mark.




27 replies »

  1. Excellent post, Mimi. I was passed over for a promotion a few years back, which gave me cause to look at my life and where it was going. I could continue in my current job and remain comfortable, or work endless hours in an effort to get noticed and promoted. I decided to stay in my current assignment and went on to get fully involved with my kids lives. I coached them all in 3 sports, which, if you’re looking at Joan River’s calendar, gave me just two weeks a year that were empty. That’s a full calendar that I looked forward to. I was fortunate that I could hop off of the corporate treadmill and still maintain my financial obligations, while becoming more involved in the lives of my children.


  2. Well done Mimi, explained perfectly.
    I would have loved being your son and have had the education that he has ; at his age. You must be content with your choice to have him travel with you and incorporate him in your work program.
    My partner was still dealing with a client when contractions began to indicate a forthcoming new born. She was hanging off an upright pole, gritting her teeth but was determined to see the client right. What a gal!
    The old saying: better to wear out than rust out, is appropriate sometimes.
    People being people, will always attempt to slow the circus down so the clowns get their chance too. Go hard-go fast. B


    • Omg. That is funny..good for her. but i can relate. I worked right up yo giving birth. Two days later, i finished a manuscript while dealing with the pain of breastfeeding and moved into a house. I look back and wonder how i did that. Never heard of that saying but I like it and will now go into my repertoire. 😉


  3. I am learning to rejoice in a blank day—a whole blank day!—-on my calendar. It actually happens now and then! Too bad I had to be in my min-sixties before I figured out that life is too short to be workworkworkworkwork. . . .


  4. I agree with everything you said in this post. My favorite part “At the end of the day you want to soar and move like an eagle and land gently on the earth while leaving a mark.” Man that’s brilliant!


  5. Great post. We need some sane time in our lives to breath, to reflect, to rest.
    We are ‘doers’ in our family but I have severe medical issues that limit my ability to ‘do.’ I’m working with coming to grips with this and finding things I can do to have meaning and purpose in my life. I’ve learned to accept that a day or two off a week (for me) helps the other 5-6 days be much more productive. I’m trying to balance daily obligations and that which truly brings me fulfillment. It’s all trial and error, kinda like spaghetti, keep throwing it at the wall, eventually something will stick. 😉


  6. Having spent over 20 years working like a corporate addict, since two years ago I totally changed my lifestyle and went into ‘work rehab’…in the beginning, I felt the empty calendar symptom, but after having discovered that doing things I like and never had time for, is actually freedom, I don’t trade it for anything.
    I haven’t gone into a sabbatical year nor climbed (yet) the Everest, or done something more exciting; I simply changed course, not being sure of having yet the right direction, but remaining open to experiment and fail with grace. Do we ever know what’s the right balance, the right choice? Don’t think so. Your son knows though that we should keep and think life simple, if we want to have time to live it. Leaving a mark, as you beautifully said, matters. It takes not effort and busy agendas, but meaning. Thanks for your post.


  7. What a great read. There are so many things I can related to. I decided very early on that I needed to balance and enjoy life a little. I am naturally a person who likes and needs to stay busy, but not at the expense of my mental health. I busy myself with things I enjoy and throw in a little work in between. Of course, as a result, I will never be a rich person, but I guess that’s okay. I’m sure my boys will thank me.


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