What Doing Nothing Feels Like, and Why You Should Do It More Often

Good evening, friends and neighbors.

This might be a bit of a shorter blog post than usual. Recent shake-ups at work have left me nearly drained everyday, and I haven’t even had the energy to work on my other projects (namely, my next book and a free ebook on time management and mise en place!)
Thank you for being patient with me on those!

If you’ve been reading this blog for really any amount of time, you probably know that one of my ongoing frustrations is my relationship with productivity, anxiety, and my own self-worth. In brief, any time that I’m not directly working (or working on something) feels like wasting time on some level.

“Wasting time” is something my brain translates as “laziness” or “shiftlessness”- and when your self worth is connected to how busy you are… it’s kinda hard not to feel like a bum for needing a break. And yet, taking a break is needed not just for creativity… but for being alive.

Where Does It All Go?

“Where attention goes, energy flows.”

It’s pretty mystic and “woo-woo” sounding, but it’s not that far off from my own favorite saying of “You always have time for what you make time for.

The things you place priority on- that get your best attention- get your energy. Lately, the bakery has been flexing and changing. New products to make, new people to train, and new responsibilities to absorb.

Amid this, I’ve been asked to handle more and more- to the point that my manager, my coworkers, and my wife were all worried for my health. Maintaining my little corner of the bakery, seeing to its needs, and training other has absorbed the lion’s share of my attention… and therefore, energy.

In the face of this and the increasingly colder weather, my previous intention of “20 minute vacations” fell by the wayside. Scheduling relaxation for yourself is difficult when you are aware there is work to be done, and you may not even be able to do the things you need to relax in the first place.

So after a week of work- while sick, while training others, amid chaos and change and confusion… I decided that today I would take it easy and try having a properly lazy day.

The fact that I am writing about it means nothing, by the way.
Here is my cat trying to interfere.

New author pic?
New author pic.

Writing on the couch is usually a tricky business. Sometimes Cleo just sits on my legs (behind where I usually have my typing machine set up) and crashes out, but recently I’ve learned that for cats, mirroring behavior communicates inclusion in the group/family. Hence, whatever I’m doing, Cleo must immediately involve herself in (usually by sitting directly on my lap or keyboard.)

Cute? Absolutely. Also a major reason I like doing my writing outside the house. I might still get distracted, but at least it won’t be by cat butt. In this case, her distractions were super-effective- as having a soft, fuzzy thing purring directly on my chest seems to be a sure-fire way to put me to sleep.

I woke up from my Kitty Sleeper Hold, and completely lost the train of this blog post…


Winding Down, and Trying This Again

Art by Jessica Boehman

I swear I try not to crib too much inspiration from social media, but this one post keeps cropping up this time of year, and I love it. The art is called “Bedtime Stories”- and it reminds me that, even in the natural world, things are supposed to slow down for fall and winter. Animals store food and hibernate, humans would gather around the fires in their shelters. It’s a time to be home, to reflect, and to bee comfortable.

In Emily and my little hobbit hole of a basement apartment, it can get pretty chilly. Between our affinity for hoodies, my knitting hobby, and her mother’s masterful quilt making, our house is rarely lacking of warm fluffy things.

I still like to be active, go running in the fall leaves, get stuff done around the house- and of course, write. Wrapping myself up in blankets on a cold night with a book and a cup of hot tea (or hot buttered rum) is one of those simple joys that fall puts me in the mood for.

Regardless of what anxiety tells you- or me, for that matter- there is nothing wrong with stopping to enjoy the things you have worked for.

We are not born to work ourselves to exhaustion, pay bills, and die.
Quiet walks on cold, foggy nights are pretty awesome too.

Seeing People and Tying It All Together

I meant to finish this post earlier today, but when I woke up, Emily suggested we go to the Portland Farmer’s Market. It’s almost always a good time, and we haven’t gone in a while. It was perfect weather and Emily had ideas for produce to get.

At the farmer’s market, I got to enjoy another simple delight- walking around outside with a hot bowl of noodle soup on a chilly day, looking at delicious produce and chatting with the people selling it.

Selfie of the author in a gray wool coat and blue cap, holding up a bowl of noodle soup with chopsticks. It is outside  on a fall day.
“Money Bowl” at the PSU Farmer’s Market offers a Southeast Chinese noodle soup that’s a bit more pickled/vinegary than some might like, but you can’t beat it on a chilly morning.

Noodle soup, a rice ball, a drive home and a run through Mount Tabor later, here is where the end of my “lazy” weekend finds me:

I am warm in my apartment, on the couch next to my wife (herself typing away at the latest chapter of her Attack on Titan fanfic, taking a break from Naruto.)

As I sit listening to hot jazz and typing, I have just realized that the simple lapdesk I made back in middle school woodshop has holes that perfectly fit my Glencairn whiskey glass- which happens to be full of some of my favorite rye whiskey. Stone Barn Brandyworks here in Portland- obviously- specializes in brandies and liquors using produce from the Pacific Northwest, but once a year when fruit is out of season, they turn their attention to making truly excellent whiskeys. Every year, I score myself at least one bottle. Come visit, and I might even share some.

The author’s iPad, folding keyboard, and whiskey glass on a wooden lap desk.
Where the magic happens

Once I finish this post, I will likely do some laundry, a little tidying around the apartment, and perhaps walk down through the chilly night to see some friends- and maybe bring some of the latest mead for them to taste.

I’ve already gotten everything I needed from this dedicatedly “lazy” weekend, but I hope I can hold on to this simple wisdom at least a bit longer:

You don’t need to be working all the time.
You don’t need to be hustling all the time.
Rest is just as important as effort, and you deserve to enjoy the things you’ve worked for.

Snuggly blankets, a sofa, furry kitten, the presence of my wife, and fine whiskey included.

Stay Classy,

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