Getting Shit Done Lifestyle Self Care

Women taking time for themselves

I spin therefore I am by Cécile Marion

Before I went on sabbatical, I was a spinning top. An overachieving spinning top. And when I left work to go on sabbatical, I cleared my diary of anything I had to do and any expectations from others, letting go of any need to spin. There was nothing for me to spin about!

In the beginning, the spinning top still wanted to spin.

After all, it was the only way of being it knew. If you’d been spinning your entire life, you too would probably be worried about what would happen if you stopped! You can’t stop. You’re not meant to stop. If you stop, you might not be able to start spinning again. Best not put yourself in that situation. KEEP SPINNING!

This sounds very familiar 😅 Letting go of busyness is so hard — and for me, finally allowing myself to stop let the years of built-up exhaustion catch up, and I haven’t been able to reharness the just-keep-swimming pace. Fortunately, I haven’t needed to (yet?). I’m hoping that working at the pace my body can sustain these days will allow me bigger surges of energy when I need them in the future.

I unintentionally took a day off this week, in addition to two days spent on taxes rather than paid work. Between anxiety about whether my husband would get laid off and it actually happening, March was more emotionally draining than I realized. I have been lamenting my inability to do both paid work and writing lately, but I’ve learned through experience that skipping the rest your body is telling you it needs will only make it worse. You can’t delay maintenance forever, and you can’t delay rest; the more you do, the bigger the problem will be when you do finally deal with it.

Time enough at last by Amber Sparks

…I’ve found middle age to be a weird place where time diverges wildly depending on factors mostly out of one’s control…All while becoming increasingly aware that the clock is not going to slow down or stop until, finally, it does, and then you do, too.

The shitty truth, of course, is that some people have much less time, both short term and long term – poverty, oppression, disability, caregiver status, illness, structural racism and misogyny and homophobia and transphobia see to that – but it doesn’t mean that great art, and meaningful art isn’t possible everywhere, in every small pocket of time.

Creating in pockets of time is something I find difficult to put into practice. The idea is nice, but I find it takes me a while to gather my thoughts enough to decide how to proceed. Perhaps this is a process problem, that I need to end with a clear statement of what comes next, but sometimes I don’t know what that is. So maybe that untangling is itself the work that can be tackled in bits of time.

I also find myself needing the right headspace, and even though I have fifteen minutes to kill before an appointment, I’ve already gotten into the appointment mindset and can’t focus on creative work.

Where time and attention remain whole by Antonia Malchik

The daily circumstances that led to that minor breakdown paralleled how I’d told my publisher I wanted to approach the subject of walking. It’s how I approach a lot of issues and struggles, whether they’re mine or my community’s or the world’s, by asking one question: What are the barriers? 

And which barriers are of my own making?

When I’m away, by myself and offline, all that time is inverted. Open, ample, unspoken for. It’s luxurious.


Embracing that abundance of time and claiming it for yourself, rather than giving it up to the neverending busywork of life, or surrendering it to others’ priorities, is the trick.

I once said to one of my mentors—who doesn’t have a cell phone or even a car—that being online felt like spending the day with a baby or toddler, which an acquaintance once wonderfully characterized as, “It really only does take half your time, but the problem is it takes 30 seconds out of every minute.”

I’ve never encountered this comparison before, between the draw of the internet and the needs of an infant 😂

Much of what I’m reading these days makes the call for more time spent in the analog — Rest is Resistance, The Shallows, How to Calm Your Mind — but putting my phone in a drawer isn’t really enough. There is something about the disruption of physical habits and pathways — getting out of the house — that seems more effective.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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