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A funny thing happened on the way to my hysterectomy

Emma Grey

Well, not so much ‘funny’ as ‘unusual’.

My surgeon phoned, apologetic: she’d injured her hand and couldn’t perform the operation because she had to have surgery herself.

What do you do when your fridge and freezer are stacked, you’ve made enough school lunches for three weeks and your schedule is completely clear…all for a period of being ‘out of action’ that doesn’t transpire?

The week turned out to be a gift. When you find yourself with ‘bonus’ time, the choices feel different. I made more progress in the week, on projects that will make the biggest long-term difference, than I’ve made in months. Mentally, I’d checked out for ‘recovery time’. Doing anything useful felt virtuous, compared with the feet-up-and-Netflix I’d had planned.

I didn’t tell everyone that I was available again. I burrowed in, and wrote part of my next teen novel, due to HarperCollins in December. Audrey and I planned a sequel for I Don’t Have Time and dreamt up some corresponding workshops for roll-out in four cities next month.

I decluttered, including beginning some of the truly emotionally challenging decluttering and repurposing that only those who’ve lost someone close to them can really understand. I went for walks. We found some snow to play in. We baked cookies.

It wasn’t exactly a ‘staycation’, because I was working each day, but there was a sense of freedom to it. It made me realise how valuable ‘down’ weeks like this could be, interspersed more regularly throughout the year. Stocking up and preparing ahead, so you don’t need to cook at all. Cancelling all appointments. Completely emptying your diary, adding in flexibility and choice.

We can do this with smaller chunks of time, too. It’s completely do-able to clear entire weekends, or entire days — to get work finished ahead, shop and cook, prep and freeze the next week’s lunches, wash the uniforms Friday night and have two full days of only adding back in to our time what really feels good.

I wish my surgeon hadn’t injured her hand, and that it was my surgery that was over, rather than hers — but I learnt something about ‘quality time’ because of this. I’d love to hear how you’d spend your time, if you were suddenly gifted an unexpected few days like this.


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

  • Leanne Pugh

    Hi (again) Emma,
    Thank you for asking about my weekend :D! (I did so want to share it with someone.) I’m a full time carer for my husband and last weekend he went to Adelaide for his eldest daughter’s fiftieth. This was no small thing as even when he was well we didn’t really tend to spend time apart. The logistics were fine tuned and the whole family was marshalled into action. Once I knew he was safe on board I flew out of the airport, tasting only freedom and the broad circumference of Canberra beckoning. And do you know where I went? I went home. And that’s where I stayed. Home is really the only place where I can never usually be alone. I did the Netflix thing and the furniture shuffle thing and even the meditation thing….it was all blissful. Today we are back to normality (which, of course, has a comfort all of its own) but we are both rejuvenated by our two ‘gifted’ days off.

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