Hello dear readers,
I know I’ve been off the fitness-blogging grid for a while. As many of you may know, I don’t do much in the way of fitness from June – August, as it’s just too hot for me to do much of anything here in Tokyo. It’s all just yoga and crunches and stretching, when I can drag myself out of bed.
That being said, my neurologist seems to think my body likes the Japanese summer, thanks to my blood test results, which he reads every 3 months. He’s convinced that even though I personally HATE summer in Japan, my body is ok with it. I don’t know how to feel about that.
I just got back from my 3rd (and final, thank goodness) trip overseas this year: we went to the UK (again) to celebrate Mark’s parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary. It was a big deal and we were glad to be there, but I’m also glad to be back home and getting back into a routine.
Whenever we go overseas, it helps us to think outside of our Japanese box about life, what we want, and what we have. What we have in Japan is an amazing house and a surprisingly flexible schedule. We manage to paint ourselves into a corner each month with the amount of hours we work, but it is actually flexible in that we make that schedule ourselves. So we have no one to blame.
We often talk about how much MORE we used to do in our off time when we still lived in Germany, before we turned our lives upside down and went running around the world without a definite plan. We had too much free time, it seemed. We used it to see friends, go on walks, cook dinner, etc. We did everything in our off time.
Here in Japan, it’s a totally different story, for a few different reasons. First of all, we work about 200 hours a month here, compared to the 120 hours a month we worked in Germany. Secondly, Tokyo is MUCH larger than tiny Würzburg, so getting around that city took far less time than getting around Tokyo does.
Here, we’re exhausted all the time. It’s hard for us to want to do anything on our days off, and sometimes all we can do is lay around, basically recovering from the work week. It’s hard to want to do anything when traveling to different parts of the city is exhausting just to think about. Add to this strange schedules for our friends, who are also able to make their own schedules, and it amounts to not doing all that much.
On the positive side, we are making a LOT more money than we did in Germany, and are paying off all of the debt we accrued in 9 months spent traveling and not working. We are able to go abroad 3 times in a year, and take a 2.5-week honeymoon to New Zealand in 2017. We can do the things we came here to do.
But at what cost?
The past week in England reminded us that we might work too much. Sure, we work 5 days a week like most people, but we work 10-hour days. Lately I’ve been thinking that even if we cut that back to 8-hour days, we’d still make a LOT of money. We might not even see the difference in our paychecks, since making as much as we do puts us in a higher tax bracket. Working less might actually help us keep more of what we earn. But I’d still have to do the math.
Now that Autumn is coming and I’ll be able to do more than yoga and crunches in the mornings, I want to be able to devote more time to fitness. I want to be able to run for more than 30 minutes without it breaking into other parts of my schedule. I want to be able to take a shower after my workout if I want to. I just need to figure out how to do that.
When we started at this job, we weren’t getting bookings the way we are now. We weren’t popular teachers. But now that we’ve been here for so long, most of our lessons are guaranteed to book. So we don’t need to put in as many lessons as we used to. But I think that since we’ve got used to making as much as we have, it’s almost hard to stop or slow down and work less.
I have to remind myself that I’ve been in this position before. When I left my design job to work at a college, I took a $10,000/year pay cut. I was so much happier making less, and I actually enjoyed my work.
Obviously I won’t be leaving my job for a new one, but I think I need to reconsider how much I work and maybe cut back. I don’t actually have an issue with this, but I know it’s going to be hard to convince my husband to do the same, as he feels like he should shoulder the responsibility if I can’t work as much. I understand how he feels, but also believe that he would be much happier and more relaxed if he worked less.
I think at the moment, we are both used to living in this kind of high-stress lifestyle, and it’s hard to get out of that. I have read about others facing the same situation, and I think that this isn’t something we can keep up forever. I don’t want us to work ourselves into the ground, or make ourselves sick, as so many people tend to do here.
So I’m going to try to balance out my work and life. This is a good time for me to do it, as I’m about to start back at the university for the Autumn semester: I’ll have to cut back on hours at my other job, and once the semester is over, I’ll be able to keep up that smaller workload. I hope.
Wish me luck!