Monday, February 27, 2006

A Day Off: To Be Or Not To Be

Many times I feel like I must be using every spare minute I have free to write. After all, I don't have a huge amount of free time. I am the mother of two small children, run a resume writing business, am pursuing publication, and am a wife, daughter, sister, friend, critique partner.... The list of duties is never ending. For every task checked off of my To Do list, at least two more are added.

I take my writing seriously. My biggest dream at the moment is to publish a book. That means using whatever stolen moments when my brain is functioning to write, edit, or plot.

But yesterday, I took a day off. As in my husband's favorite line from the movie Office Space: "I did nothing and it was everything I thought it would be."

While the children played and my husband watched television, I read. The kids and I played outside and we had Make Your Own Pizza Night for dinner, but after the kids were in bed I watched a movie and read some more. All day I felt relaxed and drowsy, even indulging in an afternoon nap. It was everything I thought it would be.

But I should have known I wouldn't get off scot-free. The first thought that raced through my mind this morning was "Do you know how much time you wasted yesterday? Can you imagine the things you could have accomplished with all that wasted time?"

What is it that forces us to feel like we must make every moment productive? Yes, I could have gotten chapters critiqued, written several pages, prepared for some upcoming family events or, heaven forbid, cleaned house. But I didn't. And I refuse to feel guilty for that. The main reason I rarely indulge in a day off is the guilt. For every "free" day I spend 3 or 4 more beating myself up for wasting time.

To paraphrase Maven Linda Howard, life is the fodder for our books. If we spend every spare moment writing, we aren't living. We can't feed our imagination or create well-rounded characters (okay, I could easily create a workaholic or a control freak), if we don't even have a few spare minutes to let our creativity take flight. So why do I feel guilty? I probably need someone to give me permission to relax. Sad, but true.

What is it that you do to relax? Do you continually put it off so you can check things off of your To Do list? Do you read, scrapbook, sing, garden, watch movies, listen to music? You officially have my permission (such as it is) to indulge yourself this week. Let me know how it works out for you.

And if you have any suggestions on alleviating the guilt, I'm all ears! :)



Anonymous said...

Angel, the problem is this. We live in a world where productivity sells. In a work environment a savvy businessman works extra hours to make everyone believe that he has drive and ambition, never mind that his family life suffers because of it. We all want a new car, not just a any new car but the best, most expensive car on the block. Keeping up with the Joneses has become our favorite passtime.

But the reality is...we do that at the detriment of our own happiness and health. Why should we be afraid to sit idle for a couple of hours? During the fall, I love to sit and watch one College Football game after another while knitting, quilting, or alternating reading a book. While logic tells me I could be more productive and make better use of my Saturdays, I give myself the permission to do this.

It's okay to relax. We are inundated with images that jet past our subconscious at the speed of sound. We hear people complain that our school systems cannot compete with Japan, so we talk about sending our kids to school year round. (What are we teaching our kids about relaxation or taking time of?)

Go with the flow, Angel, and don't regret anything. Your mind and body are telling you what you need! And isn't that more important than what anyone else thinks?

Go girl!

Smarty Pants said...

I don't think I'll be much help, I got the lecture on this subject in the past. I used to read more than I do now. Scrapbook, poke around in my garden, listen to music. Over the last year, though, I've really lost my ability to just relax. I'm either an 100% full speed ahead, or I'm at absolute zero, mindlessly watching television and usually falling asleep, waking up on a drool-soaked pillow.


Playground Monitor said...

Ditto what Kathy said.

And to address one point she made, out school system also cannot compete with the suicide rate among Japanese teenagers. That's one race we don't want to win.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Angel, PC, Instigator, SP and PM dull girls.

I was wondering about the topic for Wednesday's blog and I think you may have given it to me. *g*

Never feel guilty about re-fueling your soul and that's exactly what you did.

Me personally? I read and read and read. I can just veg out for days with a stack of books. Lately, I've watched a little of the Winter Olympics and every Thursday night for the past month or so I've taken ballroom classes with my husband and then come home to watch that hunky Drew Lachey dance his heart out. Katherine Mansfield wrote "Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can't build on it; it's only for wallowing in." I agree wholeheartedly.

Problem Child said...

PC is never a dull girl, thank you very much!!



Anonymous said...

I doubt instigator is ever a dull girl either!!

Smarty Pants said...

I am very often a dull girl. I admit it. I easily slip into my antisocial geek mode and can stay quite contented there for years. Its Instigator and PC's job to keep me...well...whatever it is I am when I'm not dull.


Instigator said...

LOL I'm gonna take a stab in the dark about who Anonymous is and say I'm only dull out of the bedroom - isn't that right babe? :-)

Angel, you're not the only one who suffers guilt over taking time off to recharge and refill. But the fact that you're not alone probably doesn't help tackle the guilt does it? I know it doesn't for me :-) But I suppose it's the price we pay and well worth it in my opinion. And you and Maven Linda are absolutely right! Without life experiences we wouldn't have anything to write about. No Bellinis, meth labs, 2:00 am giggle fests, watching your child's face light up with joy and laughter. Life's too short to live it locked in an office.

The next time you feel like playing hookey let me know - we'll battle the guilt together.