my big creative year : permission to rest

I took the day off yesterday, for reals, like I haven’t in a long time. I didn’t set an alarm and erased my agenda for the day. I had coffee in bed and got up around noon. It was not not exactly by choice – I was just useless.

I came back from teaching at the Sweet Paul Makerie in Philadelphia late Sunday night and I was completely out of gas. Even this morning my brain and various other important parts are just starting to work again. The weekend was fabulous and I’ll post about it after I get caught up on things – like getting last week’s sketchbook scanned, formatted and posted. This week is pretty discombobulated because of being away, and so very, very busy while I was away, but things will be back to posting at their regularly scheduled times next week.

For this week’s Big Creative Year post a couple thoughts on something I need to pay attention to: down time, rest, real rest. My inclination is to fill every space with something to do and ignore or under value the need for rest. It feels good to spend it all once in a while, to exhaust myself completely like I did this past weekend and it felt good to spend a day doing nothing yesterday. It was glorious, I had the afore mentioned lazy start and I hung out in the big chair, drank tons of licorice tea and looked at magazines for hours (I can’t recall the last time I did that).

the big chair

My bigger concern is my chronic need for some downtime – I don’t really take significant breaks – relaxing will happen at some undetermined time in the future when I’m less busy. That idea doesn’t work. My new plan, my new experiment is to find a way to take one day a week completely off. To plan for it and make it mandatory. It’s alarming that at this moment I can’t even imagine what that would be like. I’ll tell you more about how I plan to make it happen in next weeks BCY post on a subject I’ve been understanding in a new way lately : margin.


  1. A day off is a wonderful thing. When one lives in the city there is always a tendency to feel pressured to do more. If it were me, I’d take a day for visiting the zoo or a walk in the park, a visit to one of many museums for eye candy, sit in a cafe and enjoy dessert, take in a film or visit the library–anything different from daily routine and looking at my own work. Essential for regrouping and relaxing!

  2. I teach computer science so if I’m not teaching, I’m planning lessons, creating code or resources, marking coursework/assessment or doing university work. I recently had a few days off and it hit me like a brick how tired I actually was. However, when I do have time off, I like to be creative and sew and/or knit. I think I’d go insane otherwise.

  3. Real, sincere downtime (and not busy downtime, either) should be a required course for good living. I wonder why we don’t value it more, because, as far as I’m concerned, it’s downright precious. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole adult life for unstructured resting time & now I make it a priority. There is nothing like getting out of the loop of your life … sleep in, take naps, stay in pjs or loll about in sweats, flip through magazines, eat ice cream & graham crackers in the middle of the day, do crosswords, read old NYT Magazine articles, or anything else that has no real pace or timeline. We’re all too busy and over-committed. Rest stimulates creativity and restores peace of mind like nothing else. Enjoy!

  4. It’s good that you allowed yourself that time, it’s all to easy as an artist, or anyone who works for themselves to keep going seven days a week. I know this all to well as my dolls often hold me captive and my pleading falls on earless heads….

  5. It’s so important to keep priorities straight, especially for creative people who live in our work, and not let yourself work all the time. One of the things that we have to watch out for is adrenal fatigue, which is what can happen when constant work and/or stress catches up with you. If you find yourself exhausted around 3:00 in the afternoon, tired but wired at night, not sleeping well, foggy headed, or craving salt, these are all symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Been there, done that. It’s not nice.

  6. This is such a trigger to an overwhelming wave of nostalgia for me. I lived in East Flatbush for nearly 15 years in the 1960’s-70’s, and know your neighborhood also. Your apartment is quintessentially Brooklyn – the parquet floors and old dark woodwork – and your furnishings. Do you think about all those who’ve lived there in the past? It’s an honor to occupy those rooms. I’m glad they’re your rooms now, as they’re probably happier with you than they were for the years since the 30’s at least. And all your creations are right at home there! It’s no wonder you’re so motivated to use the oldest and most timeworn fabrics from that other age.

    (I have the same Magnalite roaster!)

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