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Balancing Act: Rachel Shenk’s Quest for Life Harmony

During a recent vacation a few weeks ago in the quaint port town of Le Brusc in the south of France, my youngest daughter remarked, “My sister and I believe you are overly dedicated to your work.”

The irony of the situation was not lost on me. Typically, my partner and I take at least two extended breaks each year, allowing us to escape our daily routines for rejuvenation and creative contemplation. Our preferred destinations, Valencia, Spain, and Le Brusc, France, are sufficiently distant from our home in northern Indiana, affording us a more detached view of our lives.

Here we were, embracing a more flexible timetable, indulging in extra sleep, deliberately avoiding work—a practice we regularly engage in to counterbalance our society’s fixation on work—only to be confronted with those words.

That night, as I lay in bed, my daughter’s statement echoed in my mind. “Do I truly overwork myself?” I pondered. “Perhaps this is a signal for change. Maybe I am pushing myself too hard.” I found myself second-guessing, a behavior I seldom indulge in. Needless to say, sleep eluded me. Nonetheless, it prompted me to contemplate my work and reassess my priorities.

For those of us inclined towards creativity and less confined by rigid work schedules, our life often intertwines with our work—it’s more of a calling than just a career. Currently, my creative endeavors revolve around managing a cheese shop, writing, baking, and block printing, all while tending to my garden. Each day, my creative mind is actively at work, not only for my professional pursuits but also in shaping my lifestyle.

Ultimately, it boils down to how I integrate work into my life. Am I steered by external pressures or by my inner instincts? Am I sacrificing one for the other? What truly brings me joy?

The crux of the matter, as I shared with my daughter, lies in finding a harmonious blend of work that I cherish within the tapestry of my life, allowing myself breathing space amidst the more demanding work phases, prioritizing sustainable living over mere financial gains.

Hence, every morning begins with a leisurely breakfast, catching up on news, solving crossword puzzles, and exchanging thoughts with my partner. At noon, I relish a peaceful hour for dining and reading.

In the early evening, a stroll at OxBow County Park, situated just a short distance from my abode, provides a refreshing break from “work.” Additionally, daily yoga sessions and moments spent savoring a cup of coffee at the nearby café contribute to my well-being.

Today, the redbud trees throughout the town burst forth from their wintry hues, displaying vibrant pink blooms against the backdrop of budding spring foliage. To me, they herald the onset of a new season, symbolizing fresh opportunities, novel ideas, and a forthcoming summer brimming with possibilities.

These blossoms also exude the happiness and vitality that I aspire to embody as I navigate through work and life, seeking that delicate equilibrium that brings contentment.

Now, it’s time to immerse myself in work once more!