My First Week Back to Work

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Toronto, Canada

It was good that I was asked to come back unexpectedly to work. I didn’t have time to plan and prepare other than looking for a last-minute flight.

It also meant that I didn’t really think about what it would be like to go back to the grind. After 18 months of working on my own schedule, waking up when I wanted and doing whatever I liked.

The first week is always the most challenging and I saw how quickly I could slip into old habits.

Easy and light. Despite leaving my job I was never one of those people who hated it. People are surprised to see me and even more surprised that I am working but I chirp in it’s only for 3 weeks.

I am exhausted that night as I’m not used to living without a daily siesta.


More happy faces and surprises and I have my formulaic ‘what’s next’ response so confidently prepared they must believe it.

I also work on my first piece of strategy and debate it with a co-worker. My brain delights in working in this way again. I forgot how much I missed “thinking” about things that didn’t involve me being so self-absorbed about where my life was going.


Everyone knows I’m there and I have first client call. It sends me toward the vending machine to get a Kit Kat bar. I had forgotten I was a stress eater. Damn vending machine! I fall asleep before 9pm.


Toronto subway

Realize that all the unhappy people on the subway are so depressing. It’s a low day. I also forgot to make lunch so I ate a frozen entree for lunch in shame. I hate processed food. This isn’t me.


I remember to take my kindle on the subway, which gives me 40 minutes to read and I learn I could love the uninterrupted time to read.

I get asked if I could work for just one more month. I don’t have any more work clothes but we can wear jeans here so maybe one more month won’t be so bad.


I decide to stay. I know I want to be in Toronto – at least for now. But if I can figure out that a Kindle makes the subway depression disappear I must be able to find ways to make everything else better. I know I don’t want my old life back, it’s up to me to create that.

But I can promise you one thing: I will not eat another frozen lunch entree.



Join the Conversation

  1. Getting paid is a good thing! Reading time is a good thing (although the only public transportation I’ve ever used is an airplane)! Watch out for those bad habits, though! They creep back more quickly than you could imagine. I’m constantly fighting them off! Sometimes I even succeed 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes money is a good thing, I need to remind myself of that.

  2. Emily in Chile says:

    I read on my commute too, and it makes it so much better when I’m stuck on the bus in traffic. And while I don’t do frozen lunches, I can relate to the feeling – I usually bring lunch and hate when I don’t for whatever reason since it means buying an overpriced, uninspired sandwich.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have to better an effort to eat better or else I’ll feel like sludge at work.

  3. Ana (Ana Travels) says:

    Would you believe I could hear the beeping sound as the train approaches the station? I used to take it at Islington. Oh the memories…

    So you got reacquainted with old habits, both good and bad. It seems you’ll be all right (as long as you stay away from frozen entrees! LOL!)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Ding ding ding…

      You know they just got a batch of new subway trains that are bigger, so much nicer.

      Frozen entrees are still the same.

  4. I always read on my commute and it made it go so much faster! I also used to prepare food on Sunday nights and bring the leftovers for lunch so I’d have something healthy & homemade to heat up every day.

    Nice to read about your first week back. Even though I have 6-7 months left on the road, there are parts of me already kinda looking forward to going back to a regular job (especially for the paycheck!)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am also a Sunday night cooker, I need to make sure I get back into that habit.

  5. I like your honesty. Personally, returning to the office environment is a depressing prospect. I have decided that if and when I do return to Toronto that I will find a job that requires more activity, less politics and the open air. I was always able to walk or bike to work in Toronto, because, I learned early that the subway was not for me! I’m glad you have your Kindle. On second thought, I cringe at the though of working outdoors during a Canadian winter — but that’s what layers are for. Good luck! You will find your way.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      My office is pretty flexible, I have already started working from home more and I hope to do even more in the future. I’m just not a 9-5er anymore, I need to change how I work before it starts to become the norm.

  6. I recall that the only positive about a commute was the time it afforded me for reading. Looking forward to hearing how you create your new future 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Haha, yes I am half-way through 100 years of solitude!

  7. I’m so interested to hear about you returning to work. I’ve kind of done the same here in Berlin – working full-time is not so easy after traveling so long…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      After my first week I have realized I may need to take a more alternative approach to things. I don’t always need to be in the office to work so I’m going to start experimenting trying to work at home or at least different hours.

  8. Thought I’d accompany my 21 yr old on her commute into Toronto on the train the other day (she goes to Ryerson)…I can’t believe how depressing it felt and to top it off someone swore at me because I was ‘in their way’. I was so daughter says it is like that every day and never wants to work in Toronto when she graduates (sorry if this sounds negative,just our experience).

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You can get some really crabby people in the subway. I have tried to take it on as a challenge to be extra cheery in hopes that it brushes off on others.

      1. Actually it was the Go-Train (Aldershot)..not sure what is worse..that or the subway.

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          Hard to say, people in the suburbs can be vicious 🙂

  9. Cathy Sweeney says:

    Welcome back to the work world – even if just for a short time. When I took public transportaion to work, I read tons of books. I even looked forward to the commute if I was in the middle of a really interesting one. Have fun!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That’s exactly what is happening to me, I look forward to the time because it is uninterrupted reading.

  10. Didn’t notice before that you have a button on the keyboard named after you…lol…love it!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know, kinda perfect eh.

  11. Jeremy Branham says:

    Indeed, working 40 hours a week definitely has its downside. It’s not all bad as it makes you appreciate the things you do have and how hard you have to work for it.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s nice to be making money instead of spending it.

  12. Quite the turn of events, and I like your take on it. I know what you mean by your brain delighting. 😉 Best of luck, and you might be tired of hearing this, but I really believe that things will fall into place at the right moment. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes some things have been good. I need to figure out how to take the good and change the bad.

      No more frozen food!

  13. Yay! So glad you had such a positive first week. I have a full-time job which I love (most of the time) and I enjoy having the routine of going to work, getting it done, coming home to relax. And then when I travel, that’s my chance to break out of routine and find delight in the unfamiliar. It’s not the life for everyone, but it works for me. Here’s to you finding what works for you, too.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Marsha, it is nice to start fresh and figure out what will work – and then try to get rid of what doesn’t.

  14. I’ve always loved having a public transport commute just because it guarantees me X amount of uninterrupted reading time each day! I used to trade off walking and riding the tram to work to balance my physical and mental health 🙂 It can be nice to have a bit of a routine back after so much constant travel–and I know what you mean about having something to worry about other than your own life plans!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Even though I haven’t been good about making lunch one of the nicest things is actually cooking again.

  15. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    I am such a freak about routine. When I get away from it on the road because of travel days or laziness or whatever, I feel lost and do things like eat Kit Kat bars (well, more like whatever terrible chocolate bar I can find at a kiosco here).

    The whole working 8 hours a day thing sounds soooo exhausting. I don’t siesta now, but I still think it would be rough.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m not a fan of working 8 hours, at least not under office lighting. I may have to switch some things up.

  16. And the most shocking thing about this post is the frozen lunch entree!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know, it’s a dirty secret – well not so secret.

  17. It must be really nice to know that your work is so appreciated, especially because it means that you can leave again without having to worry if you’ll find work again 🙂

    I love a short siesta!! Half an hour can be so refreshing!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I prefer 3 hour siestas although I think that is pushing it just a bit!

  18. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    I’m obsessed with my new Kindle too!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s also really great traveling not just for the books but it has 3G which means you can pretty much get free wifi anywhere.

  19. I wanted to say welcome to my world but that is quite inappropriate. Anyway, I hope all goes well with you. I’ve been away from work for over 3months now and I don’t know how I’m going to cope with it either. Until then, will sit here and relax!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s nice to know I’m not alone. You know I said I wanted to create a different life and here is the test, to come back and figure out how to do it here. It’s easy to do abroad but will take some time to do in Toronto.

  20. Yomadic Nate says:

    I can feel your pain…. don’t get stuck in a rut!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am trying! Part of the reason I wanted to start taking tours and traveling within Toronto. I need to learn that work fuels my life, my life isn’t about work.

  21. Kent @ No Vacation Required says:

    Stay away from the vending machine 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Kit Kats always seem like a good idea but the chocolate is kinda gross. Plus they raised the prices to $1.50 – I’m too cheap for that.

  22. While nearing the end of my time in India I was lucky enough to secure a great job in PR back home here in Toronto that I really wanted…my first day is on Monday…very curious to see what my first week will be like! The commute is going to be killer (about 1.5 hours each way!) since I don’t have a car yet – but I must admit I am looking forward to reading more. Time to load up the iPad!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      How did it go?

  23. Shudder! Coming back to reality is so, so hard! It will either have you get back into the old groove….or make you totally reassess – big things ahead, is my prediction!
    Self care is the key – lots of good things as self rewards, and allow yourself time to reminisce about your travels whenever needed!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You know I actually find it most difficult to talk about things. Maybe it’s because I blog, but people ask me how it was and all I can say is “great” or they ask me my favourite part and I can’t remember a thing. Sometimes I can be an odd duck.

  24. Aw, it’s like that Plato allegory…a man went out and saw the light, but he now had to go back and explain to the rest what he saw…but really, he just wants to go back out into the light…is this how you feel?

    Have a great weekend at least!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m not sure. I kinda think I want to stay. I know I’m not ready to go back out yet.

  25. While I haven’t left my job, this reminds me of how I feel after I get back from a long business trip. Trying to readjust to my previous life. In 2010 I was away for basically 5 months straight on business / fun trips all back-to-back (i was in the office 1 day between the trips) and it was so strange after all that to try to return home and not have anything to look forward to. I had to quickly plan a trip away because I knew I couldn’t last months without somewhere to go.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Wow a 5 month business trip, that would be intense.

  26. I guess it’s always hard to go back to the old job … and what a great company to ask you to come back after all this time! I think you’re handling everything beautifully right now and are definitely on the right path for you.

  27. You will switch it up and find ways to work from home or elsewhere. You are far too creative to let work stop your creative travel life. I hope you found a good lunch solution. 🙂

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