My friend Caitlin recently asked me to share how I create balance in this crazy life for the #worklifebalancerepeat campaign at Sufferfest, the craft beer company she founded. What I realized is, I'm not always good at it. Back in San Francisco, I have a tendency to go heads down, falling into an exhausting work and childrearing schedule without coming up for air nearly as often as I should. When I'm in this pattern, a 6am workout is often my only release all day.
In Charleston, however, it's a different story. Perhaps it's the tropical setting that makes everyday feel a bit like a vacation, but the focus is on enjoying life and coming together with friends to savor the resources at hand: beautiful beaches, top notch restaurants, stellar golf courses – I could go on, but I'll start to sound like a tourism ad. I find myself having to schedule in the work rather than the living. Not surprisingly, I feel lighter, more satisfied, and generally more whole when I'm here.
Being in Charleston this summer has shown me that the key to my personal balance is engaging meaningfully with other people or, put simply, socializing a lot. I'm happier when I make time to connect with friends because it gets me out of my head (and all the worries and demands I hold there) and into the present.
And getting together with friends in Charleston is easy. It isn't restricted to the weekends and doesn't require the aid of a PA or looking months ahead on the calendar. It can be as formal or as casual as one desires.
Sure there are restaurants that require a dinner jacket and reservation even for a Tuesday, but most get togethers are more spontaneous, taking place over last-minute sunset drinks on a rooftop, intimate conversation amongst friends in an overheated kitchen, or fish tacos at that waterfront restaurant with mediocre food but a fantastic location. The past couple Sundays, for example, brunch has taken the form of an impromptu potlock at someone's home with a dozen or so of us showing up throughout the morning baring food or drink of some sort. It's lowkey, fun, mimosa-fueled and the perfect way to end the weekend.
And it's not just getting together with good friends that triggers my happiness hormones in Charleston, it's connecting with everyone. Blame it on the feel-good effect of warm weather or just plain Southern hospitality, but I speak with many more people throughout the day here than I do back in the Pacific Northwest. From my new neighbors (who've virtually all introduced themselves and invited us over for drinks) to the barista at the coffee shop where I often go to write, to the stranger working out next to me, no one is shy about striking up a conversation. It doesn't have to be long or deep, just a friendly connection over the new rule banning plastic straws or the ruthless metermaids on the street. There's actually scientific data backing up the positive effect that even these transient social interactions have on our psyche!
We're now a full month into our bicoastal experiment, and while it's been challenging in many ways (missing my husband, solo parenting an infant who still isn't sleeping through the night, to name a couple), in other ways, I'm feeling more rejuvenated (despite the sleep deprivation). Parts of my personality that have been dormant in my "live to work" life have had the space to resurface here. It's proving to be the restorative break from reality I need to gear up for an exciting fall back in San Francisco.
And if you want to know more about Sufferfest...
I'm a fan of Sufferfest for two big reasons beyond its great taste; first, it's surprisingly healthy craft beer. It's targeted at athletes who want to indulge without sacrificing their performance – or physique. And, since a siwmsuit is practically my uniform in Charleston, I love that the Repeat Kolsh has only 95 cals and 5 carbs. The second reason I love Sufferfest so much is that the company was founded by my dear friend Caitlin. I remember when she was just toying with the idea of starting a gluten-removed craft beer company, and it's incredible to see (and taste) the premium brand she's built.