Sep 26, 201207:49 AMAfter Hours
with Jody Glynn Patrick
Scheduling a shadow life ‘After Hours’
In your conscious world, you may recognize me as a business manager and publisher or, if you know me better, as a wife, grandmother, and mother. Maybe you are in my smallish circle of friends, or we've connected through art or genealogy – I’m passionate about those avocations. But every night, just before bath and bed, I escape to an equally real and significant shadow life -- one accessed through personal emails, which have grown exponentially due to other passions.
In that world, I write a blog for bereaved parents. The website forwards comments for approval before posting; a grieving parent at a suicidal crossroad can’t be put off for a couple days. (And yes, I am a professional, credentialed death counselor; this is far too serious to be an “amateur hour” hobby.)
Next come Find A Grave edits. I’ve posted 9,606 photos there (the actual hobby began as tombstone photography). There are 87 million grave records collected by volunteers around the world; I contributed 6,836 new memorials, and have another 4,000 photographed, ready to go up. People from all over the world send obituaries to upload, photos to add, more facts to post about the deceased, or they make photo requests, or ask me to link all sorts of family members (some are pages long). Wherever possible, I transfer management to a family member of the deceased, which has dropped my load by about 100 so far.
Then, it’s on to people questioning a possible link in our lineage. After submitting DNA to Ancestry.com, I’m now getting letters, photos, etc., from people who might be fourth- or sixth-level cousins. They want to view (or have me review) a family tree for possible connections. Since my own database has 33,000 people in it, that’s more complicated than it sounds and it's easy to get lost in that for a couple hours.
Before or after that, depending on my ability to keep my eyes open any longer, I catch up on board requests to volunteer or render a vote for the Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin or The Salvation Army of Dane County. Those emails are sent to my home email because I don’t have time for all of the calendaring, scheduling, and answering questions during the workday. WWBIC, my other advisory board responsibility, doesn’t send nearly as many requests for help, given that it changes lives by making microloans.
Then it's time for emails from family (I KNOW I will answer those, so save them for last to keep me motivated). After that, if it isn’t already 1 a.m. – my usual bedtime of late – it's on to queries or hails from friends or I might write a review for Trip Advisor. After recently attaining another level, a reviewer luggage logo tag is in the mail! It will easily be noticed by hotel people upon check-in who want a good review, so future rooms and/or service might be a little nicer, so .... So I apologize for taking a few days to get back to you about going to a movie or to comment on your kid’s graduation photo, but it is a blessing to get those notes from friends.
The real message is that, after hours, nobody has time to add more involvements or accountabilities to a day – to commit to another volunteer or political cause. We MAKE time to do what’s important or essential to our personal development or our journey. I make time after the rest of my family (I hope) is sleeping safely in their beds, needs already met. I do it knowing my dogs are snuggled in next to my husband, a man who appreciates and supports my late-night forays into my "other life."
I have never been bored when in charge of my own time. Not one minute of one day of my life. We’ve all heard that if you want something done, give it to a busy person. My suggestion, instead, is to make the time to join the ranks of semi-lucid people living really hectic, but happy, fulfilling lives. Facebook is great, but it’s a low priority for me because, well, I have more pressing things to do – like posting photos on Pinterest or Flickr or publishing a Blurb book, which is then posted on FB.
What keeps you up nights or, yin to my yang, wakes you early in the morning?