#10 The work of rest
On my mind
Today is Monday. I usually write this newsletter over the weekend. But this weekend I didn't want to do anything I "had" to do. No work. No fixing up the house. No big important life conversations. I allowed myself this luxury in part because today is a holiday in the U.S. and, although I'm working a bit, I have no meetings and the world is quiet.
It's been so wonderful truly taking the weekend "off"—I find myself wondering why I still think of this as a rare "luxury." Sometimes it's simply not possible not to work on the weekend. But there are decisions I could make to make it more possible more often.
I learned when I first stopped working in an office (nearly a decade ago) that without the physical distinction between "work" and "relaxing," it's easy for each to bleed into the other so that they cancel each other out. Bouncing from my email to task list over and over while half-listening to a podcast; answering a Slack message in the middle of playing with my son. I tell myself I'm being "productive," getting things done, but what I'm really doing is neither productive nor providing the rest to let me be productive later.
It's hard without lots of practice to remember that we truly work better when we've given ourselves permission to stop working entirely. Our society certainly doesn't teach us that. Our workplaces even less. But as I sit here, feeling refreshed and ready to write, I hope I can provide at least one example.
On my reading list
I've been looking for a good summer novel, so I was grateful a few weeks ago when Rachel Cargle's Instagram post pointed me to a list she compiled titled "Black Authors Across the Genres." As the intro points out: "Too often Black & Brown professionals are expected to be experts solely about race and systematic oppression. The reality is that Black professionals, Black authors, are knowledgable, are experts across ALL fields and genres."
I ordered several books from the list and I'm currently reading Conjure Women by Afia Atakora. It's a beautiful, enthralling read, easy to lose yourself in, that is also helping me grasp a specific sliver of the Black experience in America. This in turn reminds me of a perspective I appreciate from Cargle and many other BIPOC leaders: that cultivating rest and pleasure is itself a radical act, one of many important tools in the fight for justice.
A Tarot card
The Osho Zen Tarot interprets the Tarot deck through a Zen lens, providing "an understanding of the here and now" rather than the "past and future." The Success card depicts the sensation of being "on top of the world" with the advice to "welcome it, enjoy it, and share your joy with others," but "don't be tempted to try to hold onto it." Instead, if you "squeeze every drop of juice out of the happiness you are experiencing now, you will be able to take the future as it comes without regrets."
What stories are you telling yourself about the relationship between rest and work?
Thank you for reading—I know how valuable your time is. If you think this email (and the Leading By Example podcast) might be worth a friend's time, please consider forwarding it.
Are you the friend? Please go here to subscribe.