A May Day Balancing Act

May 1st, 2012 | Shonali Burke | 18 Comments

May Day celebrationsHappy May Day! Anyone gearing up to dance around the Maypole?

Hey, I’m not crazy. In fact, you’re lucky I’m not wishing you for “Labour Day,” and no, that’s not a typo.

It took me years of living in the U.S. to get used to the fact that International Workers’ Day, for Americans, was meant to… well, work on. No holiday here, as I was used to having while growing up.

Similarly, it took me a while to get used to the fact that Labor Day itself wouldn’t be celebrated in this country until much closer to the end of the year, when most people – including “laborers” – were about done with “laboring” and getting ready for a variety of festivals and the winter holidays, and …

And they call Australia “down under.”

Oh well. C’est la vie, non?

Be all that as it May (get it?), for those of you who are celebrating Spring rites, I wish you much frolicking and glee. And for everyone else, who’s laboring along with me… hey, nice to see you!

It’s also two weeks since I started my new job, and many of you have asked how it’s going.

Well. It’s complicated.

First of all, I love it.

I love getting to know several new co-workers, both in the DC area as well as around the country (around the world, actually!), who are really committed to doing absolutely the best job they can do for their clients and the agency. My DC colleagues have been really welcoming to me, and while I still can’t put all the faces to all the names, every day I feel more at home.

I love that I work at a company whose social media policy is basically “don’t be stupid.” And that not only do they try to keep things simple, but encourage employees to participate and engage in social media.

I love that my colleagues are fiercely passionate about their work, fiercely protective about clients, fiercely caring about the people their clients are trying to reach, and fiercely committed to the ethical practice of our profession.

On my very first day, I sat in on a meeting that reinforced my earlier impressions of all this fierceness, and that was a good feeling.

So, with all this love, how is it complicated?


I’m trying to get used to a commute that is a tad longer than 14 steps. It’s 1.5 – 2 hours (round trip) and while that itself isn’t too bad (doesn’t really matter whether I take Metro or drive, so I drive since I have at least a semblance of control that way, and can listen to NPR on the way in/out), it still takes some adjusting to.

I’m trying to get used to not jumping onto Twitter or Facebook whenever I feel like it; because if I’m working on something, then social has to wait.

I haven’t worked out with my trainer in a week, and am probably not going to be able to pick that (bootcamp) up until mid-May or so. You know how religious I’ve been about that, and that feels WEIRD. And before you ask, no, I’m not going to stop working out.

I just have to figure out the routine of my new life, both online and offline… just when I thought I was making headway on mastering the mechanics.

I’m already less stressed than I was two weeks ago, and while I still have some travel coming up (Counselors Academy, I’m so excited to see Gini, Lisa, Dana, Abbie and so many more!), I’m pretty sure that once I’m back and have a chance to catch my breath, I’ll start settling in better.

Figuring things out – especially when I’d settled into a routine I’d built up to over four years, which set great store by offline and personal time, for which I was deeply thankfulisn’t easy.

But that’s what we do, right? Figure it out?

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you sticking by me as I go through this process.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the WUL team and guest bloggers chipping in to help with the content (aren’t they great?!).

I can’t tell you how much I’m still very much here… just silently; so just because you might not “see” me as much as you did earlier, on blogs, and Twitter, and Facebook, and Path, and …

I’m here.

It’ll just take a while before I start to get noisy again (so enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts).

If you’ve been down this road, and figured it out, would you share your tips, please? As you can tell, I sure could use them!

And happy Labour, er, May, er… oh, whatever.

Happy happy.

Image: somewhereintheworldtoday via Flickr, CC 2.0

Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

Latest posts by Shonali Burke (see all)

Print Friendly
Opt In Image

"A Little Birdie Told Me" could fly into your inbox just once a month. It's Shonali-as-seen-nowhere-else. What're you waiting for?


@erinmfeldman As you and I know only too well. Thanks for sharing!

Erin F.
Erin F.

I didn't mention this point in my email to you this morning, but I've been turning off social in the evening. I'll still tweet, but tweeting is like texting for me. It's a part of my social life. I've been trying not to use Facebook or other channels after six so that I can be totally immersed in whatever work needs to be done that night. I definitely haven't found the magic solution, though. I'm still trying to find a routine for my poetry and my reading and my book projects/ideas and my podcasting project/idea, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Let's not forget the social life, either. I know how important it is after living like a hermit one year. I won't ever do that again. I was a very, very sad Erin. I got a lot done, but it was at too high a cost.


My best advice would be to remember your priorities, your health, your loved ones and make sure to get some rest. Most of all know that the first few weeks or months starting something new is always stressful, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time but I promise you will get into the swing of things! Soon, you'll forget exactly how this all feels and it will be water under the bridge...until you encounter the next bridge of course and then you will be reminded again ;)



I'm four months into trying to do my own balancing act and I can tell you that I still haven't figured it out. I at first lamented my ability to personally put out quality anything, because I had to use my brain for about a million other things. But then I realized that if I couldn't do what I was doing before, I could do one thing: Be social. I think you start there. Use your networks for a bit of stress relief, because let's be honest, you've built up a great reputation and you can use your networks to get through this transition. And then you can work towards transforming your online presence to what works for you now. I am still working through my own transition, and I can tell you that working through it with my online friends has only made our relationships stronger and more fun. :) 


Glad to hear you're doing well and enjoying your new job! I also work full time, take a graduate school class each semester, and blog part time, so I have to accept that I can't be very prolific with my online activity sometimes. It might not work for everyone, but I have an understanding with myself and make it very clear to my readers that this is a part-time/quarter-time gig. I like blogging and reading what other people are writing about. But if I have to focus on other things like work, school, and life in general, than that's okay as well.


Hope you have a great week!


@shonali Of course! I meant to read the post yesterday, and that didn't happen. Today it is!

Shonali moderator

 @TheJackB HELLOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

And it absolutely is. Being given free rein to build something - how cool is that?!

How are you?

Shonali moderator

 @rachaelseda What if everything's a priority? I know that's not really true, but it feels like that at times... especially now.

I don't know if I'll ever forget how this feels; in fact, I hope I don't, so I remember how to get through it the next time (because that's one thing I'm sure of, there WILL be a next time, as you said!).

You're so sweet for cheering me on, Rach. Thank you!!!

Shonali moderator

 @decillis1 Well, you know I'm not shy about complaining to my social networks. :p Case in point... this post. Ha!

I can't tell you how all of you are helping me. Really - I literally can't tell you, because just thinking of how kind everyone is overwhelms me.

And then I start to have visions of Cesare stalking me...

Shonali moderator

 @Krista I love it. I love that it's a very entrepreneurial atmosphere, people are really nice (it's ALL about the people for me!), so in many ways, the sky is the limit. It's just taking some getting used to... but honestly, I shouldn't be surprised. I mean, four years of figuring out one's own style is a long time, and then to fit into another takes work.

I do feel a responsibility as the WUL editor/publisher, though. I've put a lot of time and effort into building this community (with wonderful people like you!), not to get anything, but because I genuinely enjoy it. Everyone has given me so much, and I want to do right by them. So it's not something I can give up. I just have to figure out how to do it all.

 @MargieClayman , @jgoldsborough , @shellykramer shed some light for me on this yesterday on FB (and many more too!) - and it was really heartening to see them share so openly. So I know I'll get there. I just don't know when... or how!

Thanks so much for your encouragement, Krista! How are you doing?


  1. […] given the extreme changes that my own career has taken, I wasn’t sure if what I could offer would be of use to the […]

  2. […] in mind that my role has changed recently. I’m no longer a small business owner, but now work for a very large agency. In some respects, I think that makes me even more like many of the people I interact with, since I […]

  3. [...] back up… you know I started a new job a while back, etc. etc. And you have been really patient with me as I’ve been figuring out my [...]

  4. [...] 4th, 2012 | Shonali Burke | 0 Comments TweetYesterday, we in the U.S. marked Labor Day (which the rest of the world marks on May 1, but of course, we have to be different… [...]

  5. [...] in mind that my role has changed recently. I’m no longer a small business owner, but now work for a very large agency. In some respects, I think that makes me even more like many of the people I interact with, since I [...]

  6. [...] given the extreme changes that my own career has taken, I wasn’t sure if what I could offer would be of use to the [...]