24-7ers Listen Up

24-7ers Listen Up

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You may be a 24-7er if:

  • When your shirts go to the laundry, you ask that some be returned on hangers and others in a box. The hanger shirts you wear to the office (no creases mean you can take your jacket off) and the pre-folded shirts are for travel; you just pick up how many you need and pop them right into your suitcase.
  • You own two identical expensive dark blue suits so one is always back from the cleaners.
  • You have a packed second gym bag, including a pair of the expensive sneakers you like, ready to pop into your suitcase when you travel. That way you can continue your 5 a.m. workouts.
  • You always carry a pair of Manolo Blahnik heels in your briefcase so that as soon as you get where you are going—for example, a meeting outside the office—you can change out of your walking heels into your Blahniks.
  • You have color-organized your closet and hung next to each outfit an appropriate scarf and a bag of jewelry. In addition, each outfit is numbered, and you have a list of all the numbered outfits and their description on the closet door as well as a calendar, on which you can write the number of the outfits you wear each day.
  • You take enough electronic equipment with you that if the pilot tells you that the plane is going back to the gate due to mechanical problems, you can get a flight leaving in a half hour on another airline before the plane reaches the gate.
  • You have programmed into your PDA all the ways to get to Wil-mington, Del., from where you are and any major cities you visit regularly. In addition, you have printed copies of the information and had them laminated: one for your briefcase, one for your secretary and one for the senior associate you usually work with.
  • You tape pages from advance sheets on your bathroom mirror to read while you shave or fix your hair.
  • You take a car service to work rather than drive so you can work on your way into the office.
  • You get out of a two-hour court hearing and turn on your cell phone and are disappointed you only have 15 calls.
  • You go to the local toy store and buy dozens of small toys so you can pop the right number in your suitcase when you travel and avoid the burden of shopping at the airport.

You might not be a 24-7er or you are a very over-tired 24-7er if:

  • You have to wear a gray suit to a very important meeting because all of your dark blue suits are at the cleaners.
  • You stand up to say good-bye at a meeting to one of your clients and think it surprising that he seems to have grown three inches since the meeting began. You look down and realize you are in your stocking feet.
  • You have two-year-old twins and can't tell them apart, even though one is a boy and one is a girl.
  • You can't remember whether next Thursday is your daughter's fifteenth birthday or your fifteenth wedding anniversary.

You don't need a lot of time to take a mini-vacation—just one to three hours each week.

What is all this leading up to? Well, listen up, and you'll find out. I am proposing that you all take a mini-vacation. "But," you protest, "I have no time to take a vacation."

You don't need a lot of time to take a mini-vacation—just one to three hours each week. Your spouse and children are not part of a mini-vacation.

I started taking a mini-vacation last year. My first one was tutoring a fifth-grader as part of a small tutoring program. She is a sweetie. (I'm also tutoring her this year). Usually, we go over her homework and then just talk. Last year, she used to pretend she didn't have any homework until I asked her three or four times. This is not tutoring to help someone get an 800 SAT score. She needs tutoring to stay at grade level. Last week the word "wiggle" came up, and she had no idea what it meant. Her mother is very nice and was born in Peru. Her English is very good, but not rich in words.

Tutoring my fifth-grader was a wonderful experience. On the last day she said to me, in a very serious voice, that my daughter, who was living in Spain, must love me very, very much. It was her way of expressing her feelings for me.

And I had the summer off.

Later in the year, I took on a sixth-grader at another tutoring center. She had some learning difficulties but was in a regular class at school. I found out almost at the end of the year that her problem was that she simply did not know that much about the world. For example, she didn't know what baseball is! Her father did, however.

I also started being a conversation partner at a center where foreign language speakers can improve their English. Right now, I have a 25-year Korean violinist as a writing partner. Last time, she wanted to use our two-hour double session to talk about how one makes a career and about a current boyfriend she has problems trusting because he says one thing now and another two weeks later.

All of my tutoring sessions have been for one hour only. Transportation time has to be added. Where I tutored my sixth-grader last year proved to be very inconvenient—two trains there and two buses to get home. The people I have tutored are all outside my world, past or present.

If you decide that tutoring could be a mini-vacation for you, look for a place where the kids really need you, and one that is not too difficult to get to.

One of the joys of tutoring is being able to give of your education (however expensively acquired). In addition, tutoring sessions at the grade-school level require no preparation, although you may want to buy the child a few books.

Although I suggest that your mini-vacation involve going out into the community to see another side of life, there are other choices that do not involve that. How about a one-hour nap on your office sofa once a week? You could pick a particular area you would like to study (preferably not law-related); fix a set time for every week. You could decide to read classics you've never read, like Don Quixote—or you could go to a museum once a week for an hour. Perhaps you would like to draw or write for an hour. Perhaps you live near a river that has a footpath to walk along.

Several things are important in choosing your mini-vacation. It should never involve committee work, officerships or raising money. You should find it refreshing. If it is not, try another one.

Finally, this is your special time for yourself—your one hour or so when you do not have to be a 24-7er nor do you have to be a parent or spouse, with all the complicated emotions. You can find the hour. It is really just a matter of taking it.

Enjoy your mini-vacation!

Journal Date: 
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
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