Longtime technical editor Diana Ceres left a full-time job in the DC area 8 years ago to move to Santa Fe and focus on screenwriting, continuing to edit proposals part time. Working from home, Diana has a notable commitment to work-life balance, health, and creativity. Frankly, we’re inspired—and asked about her approach.
Dragonfly: As a company, we have a big focus on work-life balance. You seem to take this seriously. What tips might you share with others, especially about working from home?
Diana: For me, balance is very important. I find that my day is difficult if I do not take time out for myself, even if it’s just a quiet cup of tea before I begin my day of writing, editing, or errand running. I learned this early on in my career when I was working a high-pressure corporate job. I found myself getting stressed easily.
I learned that taking short breaks in the middle of a crazy, whacked-out day kept me sane and smiling. Sometimes I’d sit under a tree and imagine roots growing deep into the earth. Other times I’d walk around the block. And, on more than one occasion, I would cave and drive to Starbucks for a venti soy latte and a currant scone.
The point is I got out of the office, the immediate source of stress, and took a little time for myself. I find it extremely grounding and necessary to do this. In Western astrology I am a Gemini with Aquarius rising. In Ayurvedic medicine, I am all vata. All of this air is great for vastness, expansion, and creativity, but it is also a recipe for frying my circuit board if I do not take time out to honor and nurture myself. Often.
Dragonfly: How does this translate to others?
Diana: Taking care of yourself is such a basic human need. It doesn’t need to be elaborate. I think the key is finding out what feeds your soul and then giving yourself that food in steady increments every day. I find that working at home enables me to have more time to cultivate the lifestyle that best suits me. I tend to be an introvert. I need a lot of quiet time, especially in the morning. Rushing to catch the morning train is stressful to me. When I lived in DC and had to do this, I decided it was worth getting up an extra hour early, so I could ease into my day with a quiet cup of tea and a short meditation.
Even now, if I know that I have a particularly busy day or week ahead of me, I try to structure my time, so that I can still fit in the things that I like to do, even if the amount of time spent doing them is greatly diminished because of my workload. And at least a few times a week, regardless of what is going on, I get back on the mat and practice yoga. I find it soothing, grounding to breathe in and out mindfully, to stretch tight muscles, tired from computer use, and to practice an ancient discipline that leaves me refreshed, peaceful, content.
Dragonfly: Are there some lessons from yoga we can all use to help us balance our lives?
Diana: The most important yoga is the yoga I practice off the mat. My favorite yoga teacher would always tell me, storms are how we practice peace. This taught me not to be afraid of conflict, drama, high-pressure jobs, deadlines … that I could go within and be rock solid no matter what. And that the real lesson is not what unfolds, but how we handle the unfolding.
I tend to be very results oriented. I still work on this, so I can enjoy the process a little more, rather than jumping way ahead of myself, waiting impatiently for the finish, which always seems anticlimactic, because I am too busy waiting for something to end rather than appreciating all of the delicious little details in between.
In a way, yoga also makes me a better writer. By reminding me to slow down, I can appreciate the pauses in life … and (hopefully) capture these moments in my writing.