Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Bad Old Days

This is by way of apology for my lax blogging lately!

I worked in private practice for a couple of years before taking my current job in the government. I was extremely well paid...and totally miserable. I worked 12 hour days, and when I was at trial I worked 18 hour days non-stop for 3 weeks in a row. I was so worn out that I had no energy or creativity left, and didn't do much sewing at all during that time. I watched a lot of TV.

I have a huge project at work right now; I'm running a conference on Monday and Tuesday (if anyone is interested in the legal issues surrounding the security aspects of global transfer of data, it's free to attend), in addition to presenting at a different conference last Wednesday and then attending the other sessions Thursday and Friday and schmoozing with the people who are speaking at my conference. I have spent about the last two months of my life planning this conference and it has been so much work. I have worked late, on my flex day, and on the weekend.

I knew I was unhappy at the firm, but I didn't really understand how much it took out of me! I am exhausted and dull and have done nothing but work and eat. That was my whole life for two years. I always felt weird about how much money they were paying me. I was only a few years out of law school and knew I knew nothing. This week, in retrospect, I see that I earned every penny. They weren't just buying my time while I was at work (which was a lot of the time)--they were buying my whole life.

I have been at my government job for three years and am pretty much happy as a clam. This rare, extremely demanding time has helped me appreciate it all the more. On Tuesday when the conference ends my life will go back to normal and I will resume blogging and sewing and cheerfully not having to think about work at all when I'm not there!

21 comments:

Daisy said...

I was in private practice for several years and it was draining. Like you, I was paid well to live at the office. Then I moved on to being a government attorney, which was also exhausting many time but in a better way. This allowed me to return to sewing, which is my creative outlet. I have since retired and am now in education, which I love and have even more time to sew. Like you said, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel in your government job so that you can enjoy the rest of your life. I hope you can get back to your sewing on Tuesday night and can't wait to see your post on your newest project.

Kim Hood said...

Thankyou for sharing that. I always told my daughter that job satisfaction and life happiness was worth far more than money. My husband worked in banking and was pretty much 'owned' by his employers. Since he left he has become the man I married again and that reinforced my view to my daughter. Thankfully she is solvent and living independantly - but doing what she really loves. (And I sew!)
Best wishes
Kim

Little Hunting Creek said...

Won't it be wonderful when it's all done and you can enjoy Washington in the Spring? It's so beautiful here then, and I know you must have lots of pretty projects planned. I hope your conference is a big success.

Cindy said...

Good with your projects! You just brought back a flood of memories from my working days. When you are away from it for awhile, you tend to remember the good times only! Thanks for the wake up call!

Cindy said...

Of course, I meant Good luck..

KayY said...

Interesting conference! I too left private practice for government (Canada) - it took me 13 years to see the light (Smacks head). Maybe we should have a club: sewist lawyers who left private practice to work for government??

peacockchic said...

Man, I have been going though the same thing for the past 7 months doing the work of two people. Thankfully she comes back at the end of March so I may have my life back soon :O) That is if they don't do layoffs :O(

Here's to the positive side!

Sewfast said...

Amen Sister! My situation was similar except when I was working for the government they were sucking the lifeblood out of me. It really hit home one night when one of our nurse practitioners made the comment that I must make mad money because I was always at the facility. I told him that wasn't so because I was salaried. Ten minutes later he came back to my office and said "Do you realize you are working for minimum wage?" I changed jobs shortly thereafter and though I make less money, I have way more joy!!! (and time to sew)

laura said...

When my 3 kids were little I had a full time job that required overtime plus some Saturdays. I didn't have a cleaning lady and my (now)EX didn't believe in helping around the house. When years later things finally slowed down I said I felt like I'd been paroled from prison (and I'm never going back). To have time to pursue whatever it is that interests you is such a wonderful thing and makes life so much nicer!

sewducky said...

LOL I hear you, except mine was for 4 years in a management in a restaurant. It took a little more then just 70 hour work weeks for me to quit tho.

Good luck on the conference!

Birgitte said...

Sounds like you've already mastered what many never will they're entire lifetime; a healthy balance of work and play. Congrats, and my best wishes for your continued happiness!

badmomgoodmom said...

Actually, I do want to attend your conference. The subject is right up my alley. But, the government doesn't have the $ to send me to the east coast to attend.

Will the conference be broadcast on the web?

Vicki said...

I was a partner in an accounting practice and had two little girls and gave it up for a part time job and a life. Now I am back at work full time but the hours are more reasonable. Perhaps when I get back on my feet I will see if I can manage to work only 4 days a week. As it it at the moment, I am not getting any sewing done ;(

Vicki said...

Oh, I forgot to say - good luck with the conference! And than a happy return to the sewing room.

Sew4Fun said...

I could have written this post myself. I too gave up big money for happiness many years ago, as did my husband, and we have never looked back. Yes it's hard at times not having the money but we have so much more!!

Good luck with your conference! At least you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and you can "live" again in a few days.

Beth Conky said...

Amen. I'm an excavation estimator and we have started working 50 hours to try and get more work since the down turn in the economy. I also have an half hour drive both ways. By the time I cook dinner and eat . I'm pooped. I never hardly sew anymore. Hate it. Can't wait till buisness picks up and can get back to normal life. Looking forward to your next project.

Micka said...

I read your blog quite often, but almost never comment.
I'm from Europe, Slovenia. It is an ex - Yugoslavian country, who set it's course to the capitalism 18 years ago. We have shopping malls, time demanding jobs, fancy cars, exotic vacations and all the rest, capitalism offers. But, thanks to the communism, we raised from, we have good (and free) health system, fee free school system (including college) and what is the greatest: we don't struggle as much as you guys do.
It is almost like visiting those relaxed countries like Greece (as I recall, you have been there, so you must know what I'm talking about), but with more commodity.
Why do you have to work this much?
I still think that having some sort of balance of all the tense and relaxed moments, makes our lives great. So, if you work and sleep 80% of you life, it won't bring you the satisfaction, you deserve.
I hope I haven't offended anybody. :)
Good luck!

Uta said...

Good luck with your conference. Sounds interesting! I just had to comment since I'm a lawyer, too - who knew there are so many sewing lawyers? -, and I never understood why one's choice of field should determine one's lifestyle. I love a good mental challenge, but even a regular workday crunching legalities leaves me drained, no way was I ever going to spend my "life" on it. Needless to say, despite my qualification there won't be a big career or big money for me. But I have time to enjoy my kids, my life, my sewing, and thats worth it!

Syl said...

Yet another lawyer here.. for me, law school meant a lot of volunteer organizations and often a 20-hour-plus day. I'm still dealing with the physical fallout from that. I too chose a government job (albeit a high-stress one, lol) because I couldn't stand coming home too late to even say goodnight to the kids.

And to answer Micka-- no, I don't know why it seems so hard at times. Both myself and my husband work. Our house is modest, so's my car (his is paid for and on its dying breath, lol), and we don't really have expensive tastes in much. Do we have a lot saved up? No. Do we have problems if there's unexpected medical? Yes. Are we going to be able to fund education/orthodontia/any extra expenses for our kids? We're not sure. And we're the lucky ones-- our jobs are secure and we were smart enough to get a good fixed-rate mortgage. So we won't lose our home like so many others have..

Micka said...

Dearest Trena, I hope you are not upset for us having this intercontinental political discussion on your blog.

Syl - I'm sorry for you. It hurts to read about people who work hard and still don't get things everybody should, like free health care for example. It is hard to understand how situations like yours occurs in 2009, where food industry, medicine and all other aspects of human raise have developed to the level, where there should be only few percent of people making our food and other services we essentially need.
More then half of my friends work in very slow and ineffective manner, just because they don't need to work in any other way, so my guess is, that in the future the majority of people won't need to work.
It is even more unusual that you live in a country we all worshiped as one of the most developed, and in the same time, you are not able to educate your children as much as they want and get free health care. That is sad.
My fingers are crossed for your new president, to be able to raise you back to the state, we all envied.

Myra said...

Hey, nominated you for sisterhood award on my blog.