Wednesday, July 11, 2012

fighting the US resistance to taking a break

It started out slowly. The sigh-it-out feeling of relief; that things are coming together; my first book will soon be released (which I hope will free and inspire a lot of moms and women — and dads and men! — in general to claim, own, and explore their sexuality on their terms). Suddenly all the blogging and Facebooking and Tweeting just seemed less urgent. Plus, the days were getting longer, warmer, sunnier. And are still lovingly long, warm, and sunny, even if we've passed the solstice.

I grew up in Scandinavia, light and heat deprived and all: how could I not seize the moment to soak in pleasure and joy right now?

So I did. Like I've done many times before (though not last summer when I was crunching in work hours to get said book done).

Taking time off is definitely not an uncommon thing to do for me and most of my fellow Norwegians (who claim five weeks of paid vacation each summer), as well as numerous continental Europeans. On the contrary: we take pride in it. Which is so unlike most Americans who in the US take pride in their workaholocism though their production and achievement focused obsession shows no improvement is results from those of the Europeans.

It's kind of strange and delightful at the same time though to be the odd bird who's taking "time off" (I mean; look at me blogging here at night: it's contagious). Time off, that is for me, in like a "forever" context by now it would seem; within this US context. I mean, we're getting close to two months, and there will be more!

Sad fact about the US: "We're the only advanced economy in the world without a federally-mandated minimum number of vacation days, and more than 50% of workers don't use all their vacation days, anyway," reports The Atlantic.

Yet: While I know this time-off-thing is right for me, right here, right now; doing it alone amidst the masses takes work. Which is why I've taken courage from a few recent articles that address this matter, highlighting the importance of rest. To quote the most entertaining one:
The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done."
Don't be too busy to read all of this article: The 'Busy' Trap

(This one is also worth checking out, especially for parents, reminding us to allow kids to have unstructured time: Rest Is Not Idleness: Reflection Is Critical for Development and Well-Being.)

So: how to take the time off for rest? — Just take it. Unpaid or not.

Why? You'll be a much more satisfied and fulfilled person.

How again?

Well, there are many ways. And each to his or her own. This prescription has been working for me:
  • lounging in the late afternoon sun while child per chance naps (bonus: coming up with new ideas for new books and articles while sipping on a a beer or a glass of wine)
  • long, lazy or busily active (workout opportunity!) days at the beach and pool (mind can still drift and rest...) followed by margaritas on the porch (no; it's not all about the drinks this time-off thing of mine)
  • savoring hours of sex at night rather than cranking out blog posts or Facebook updates (see? We enjoy in other ways too.)
  • taking time for long outings with friends that allow the conversation to meander and create new connections
  • beginning each morning practicing mindful and giddy yoga
  • worshipping the sun (even if it'll cost me wrinkles)
  • lingering in bed in the morning, as a family
  • dreaming about, planning, and executing a night out and a mini-vacation away from home (soon you'll see even less of me over here!)
  • finding light summer reads
  • savoring the smells of barbeque and freshly cut grass
  • watching the sky change in the evenings as the sun sets and the fireflies begin their fireworks (I'll be soon heading out to our porch for this part)

How about you? What inspires and fuels you for the feel of time off?

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