All work and no play

I just got back from a weeklong business trip that covered three different states, airport transfers notwithstanding. It included hours of windshield time, early morning flights, earplugs, mud, closed exit ramps, detours, a scary gas-station-turned-liquor-store, a stiff breeze on top of a mountain (okay, a really big hill), and a few stretches outside my comfort zone. Though the task itself wasn’t particularly strenuous, the constant motion left me more tired than I had a right to be. By the time I got home–a day late, thanks to an ill-timed snow squall and an overfueled airplane–I was ready for what was left of the weekend.

On top of all that, my kids were mad at me for being gone so long, my forgotten plants were almost dead, and my overstuffed mailbox was a beacon for burglars, signaling that I was away. I had a stack of bills waiting to be paid, the milk had spoiled in the refrigerator, and the suitcase from my Super Bowl trip was still full of dirty clothes waiting to be washed.

Rough life. Business travel sucks, right?

Wrong. This trip was actually a lot of fun. I traveled with good people who provided great conversation and a lot–a LOT–of laughs. We ferreted out some terrific meals, including a cilantro margarita at one stop and banana wontons at another. We got to see long stretches of beautiful country, and we even had time to throw in a practical joke or two. Besides that, we accomplished our mission. From all aspects, it was time well spent.

Why is it that I often feel compelled to cast work-related endeavors in a dreary light in order to be taken seriously? I tend to paint a picture with grays and blacks and angry reds to make work seem like, well, work. But nowhere in the definition of work does it say that it has to be boring and tedious and arduous. Work is simply the exertion of effort to accomplish something, to be productive. Somewhere along the line I’ve assumed that enjoying myself while doing work makes the effort less valuable. Shame on me.

Work can be fun. Work should be fun. If I don’t enjoy it, I should probably find another project, job, or career. Sure, there will always be parts that are less enjoyable than others, but there is nothing wrong with appreciating the highlights. More importantly, there is nothing wrong with admitting it.

The next time someone asks me about my trip, I’m going to tell her I had a great week. I really did.

Note: My apologies for not posting for more than a week. Fun or not, I just plain ran out of time. I’m really sorry; I’ve missed this!

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