When You Can’t #VOWplay…

…you don’t get your VOW post up on Sunday and  spontaneously burst into tears trying to finally draft it on Wednesday night.

So, last week, our verb was play, and I was both excited and already frustrated with the word when we announced it. Lin and I are both pretty frustrated and/or completely maxed out at work–not to mention we are trying to juggle relationships and side hustles at the same time–so I was honestly like, when the hell am I going to have time to play?

I did make some time.

One night, made handmade greeting cards and contemplated an idea for a yoga-themed papery line.

One night, I played pick-up sticks (not a sexual innuendo–I really mean the game).

One night, I even researched play, specifically, Dr. Stuart Brown’s  seven properties of play; they are:

  • Purposeless
  • Voluntary
  • Inherent Attraction
  • Freedom from Time
  • Diminished Consciousness of Self
  • Improvisation Potential
  • Continuation Desire

(He has a TEDtalk that I haven’t watched but has great reviews; let me know how it is.)

And then work hours got longer, and my sleep hours got fewer (and I routinely need eight hours–my “old man” bedtime is a thing people know about me). My stress levels got higher, and my spirits got a bit lower.

And I started thinking about something I had read in Brené Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection (obviously…when life goes low, I go Brené):

One of her guideposts for “Wholehearted Living” is “cultivating play and rest.” Brené’s book may not be able to slow the pace of my professional life or give me more time to play, but it did provide a helpful exercise to help keep me in check. (She also recommends this exercise for relationships, and I think it’s pretty brilliant.) She encourages you to make an “Ingredients for Joy and Meaning” List, a list of specific conditions that are in place when everything feels good in your life.

So I made the list or at least started the list.

When everything feels good in my life…

  • I’m meditating every day.
  • I’m doing yoga every day.
  • I’m sweating every day.
  • I’m feeding my body well.
  • My wine is primarily consumed with people and not alone.
  • I’m taking time to plan my week and my day.
  • I’m taking full breaths.
  • I’m getting 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • I’m doing something creative just for me on a weekly basis–not freelancing, not as a favor, for fun.
  • I’m taking sabbath–not necessarily for God but for me–a few hours each week where I am simply resting.

While the list itself may not fix the problem, it’s a bit of a poke for my soul. It’s a reminder to pause and consider why I may be feeling the way I am feeling. To give me an idea about how I can right it.

This week we separate
(and try to find work life balance…though it is wednesday, and it is not going well).

Steph’s PLAY mantra: “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.” William Jennings Bryan

Steph’s Song of the Week: Sanctuary by Nashville Cast

& Don’t miss Lin’s post on #VOWplay


For Funsies: Reflecting on PLAY

Western culture today seems to be a competition in busy-ness. We all seem to have so much important stuff to do that taking a break from it is considered weakness. And too often when someone shares how much they are feeling pressure, stress, or a never-ending sense of being overwhelmed, we launch into the comparison game. As though there is a certain level of importance associated with a bursting workload and full calendar. As though my schedule was the threshold of what busy truly looks like.

We’re all busy.
We’re all stressed.
We could all use some extra hours.
We ought band together and encourage decompression rather than comparison.

Steph and I connected this week over a mutual feeling of having to manage too many tasks being compounded by high expectations. You know the feeling — suddenly it’s 7:00pm, your tummy is growling because you last ate at 11:30, and you’re practically in tears because despite sprinting this damn marathon all day, you still didn’t seem to make it more than a few steps forward. So you tell yourself one more hour, just finish this one page knowing that by the time you’re home and fed, you’ll be passed out from exhaustion on your couch only to return to the office after a fitful night of remembering yet another thing you need to add to the list.

So because of this, I say thank god for #VOWplay. This week I reminded myself to stop burning the midnight oil. And rather than hang in front of the TV when I got home, to still be active but in a much more gratifying way. My goal was to leave each day at 5:00 which turned out to be too lofty but I didn’t take any cases home with me (physically or metaphorically).

Since Valentine’s Day, I’ve borrowed a ukulele from my local library (Avondale branch FTW!). I downloaded a tuning app, rehearsed my chords, practiced my strums (down down-up up down-up). I’m far from talented and keeping rhythm isn’t my strong suit, but fuck it. Razzmatazz (as so named by the librarian, not me) exists for pure, nonjudgmental fun.It helped me relax each night and settle into better brainspace to start the next overly consuming workday.

I also lost myself in an online class which fed my soul rather than my schedule. Which made me feel like I was doing something important without a measuring stick of progress. It was PLAY that allowed me to elevate my personal life rather than drown ing in the drudgery of my profession.

I actively want to avoid burnout in this job. I love it too much. And so I must recognize and remind myself, week after week, that to be successful in this field means to take care of me. To allow things to wait for the morning. To know when to walk away and lighten my load. Stretch out more. Laugh a little. Do something for the sake of nothing.


This upcoming week I continue to strive with that positive work/life balance by keeping things SEPARATE


Lin’s VOW mantra: All work and no play…

Lin’s Song of the Week: The Shining (Main Title) by Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind

Be sure to read up on Steph’s post on #VOWplay

Exactly this:

Repost from Leo Babauta’s amazing blog Zen Habits

This post hit me right in the #VOWplay feels. So frequently we bounce about, not savoring or enjoying what we’re doing. Oftentimes it’s work (more on that in my reflection post) but also, it seems, in play.

For instance, I recently bought a book on doodling. Which sounds kinda dumb, I know. And unnecessary. But I had a Barnes & Noble giftcard and it seemed like fun. My doodles have always felt relatively uninspired and another post about grimoires got me jonesing to build a talent for decorating pages. When I opened the book, I was in such a rush to do ALL THE DOODLES that I actually felt a bit of a failure for starting at the beginning. The rush of mastery almost ruined the fun of the learning — of the PLAYing.


Why I’m Always in a Hurry, & What I’m Doing About It

DATE : March 6, 2017

I’ve come to realize, more and more, that I’m always rushing.

I rush from one task to the next, rush through eating my food, impatient for meditation to be over, rushing through reading something, rushing to get somewhere, anxious to get a task or project finished.

What’s the deal? This coming from a guy who has written a lot about slowing down and savoring, about being present, about single-tasking?

As always, when I write these articles, they’re as much a reminder to myself about what I’ve found to work as they are a reminder to all of you. I’ve found them to work, but that doesn’t mean I always remember to practice them. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect, by any means.

So what is going on? Why do I hurry so much?

I’ve been reflecting on this, and the answer seems to be that my mind has a tendency towards greed. This isn’t greed in the sense that I want a lot of wealth … but my mind finds something it likes and it wants more. Always more.

Some examples of greed:

  • I like chocolate (or wine, or coffee, or cookies) and I crave it, and want more even if I just had a bite of it.
  • I am doing a task but also want to do 20 more tasks, because I want to do as much as possible. Wanting to do more and more, to do everything, is a good example of the mind’s tendency to greed.
  • When I learn, I want to learn everything about a topic. I’ll look up every book I can find, every blog post or article, every podcast or video, every forum post, and want to read all of it. Of course, I can’t possibly read all of it now, but I want to. I’ll buy 10 books but jump around from one to the next, not finishing any of them.
  • When I travel to a new city, I want to see it all — all the best sights, all the best vegan restaurants, all the best bookstores and museums and experiences. I can’t possibly, but I’ll do my best to fit all the best stuff into the small container of my trip, and research it for weeks.
  • When I’m going about my day, I try to fit as much as possible into it: not only all my tasks, but spending time with the wife, reading with the kids, working out and meditating and doing yoga and going for a walk and reading and learning online and answering all my emails, watching all the best TV shows and films, and checking all the forums and news and blogs and more and more.

I rush around, trying to fit all of that in. I’m trying to maximize every day, every trip, every event, every moment. I’m trying to get everything possible out of life.

This comes from a good heart — I appreciate the briefness of life, and I appreciate its brilliance, and I want all of it in the short time I have left here. That’s not a bad thing, wanting more of life.

But what is the result of always wanting more, always wanting to maximize? It’s rushing, grabbing onto everything, never having enough, never being satisfied, never actually stopping to enjoy, not really appreciating each moment because I’m greedy for more great moments.

Indulging in this greediness for more, this maximizing everything, doesn’t satisfy it. It just creates more wanting for more.

Indulging isn’t helpful. Staying with the feeling of wanting more, wanting to maximize, wanting to rush, wanting to do it all … that’s more helpful. Stay with the feeling, Leo, don’t indulge it.

Don’t try to do it all, but instead be here now.

Don’t rush, but appreciate the moments in between things as just as important as the next thing.

Don’t try to maximize, but instead practice letting go. Let go of greedy tendencies, let go of whatever you’re clinging to (having it all, doing it all), let go of the urge to rush.

Whenever there’s a tendency towards greed, counter it with generosity.

The Practice of Generosity

What does generosity have to do with hurrying and trying to maximize every day? In one sense, generosity might be giving money or possessions to people who need it, or giving help wherever needed, when possible. But that’s just one sense of generosity.

Generosity is any way that we turn away from our self-centered view and start turning towards others. It could be as simple as turning towards another person in our life and trying to see what they need, rather than focusing on what we want to get out of life.

Or it could be turning towards that person and giving them the gift of our full attention. Really try to be present, with an open heart, trying to understand and hear the person. This is the spirit of generosity.

When doing something alone, the spirit of generosity can be turned to each moment — giving that moment the full gift of our attention, seeing it fully and opening our heart to it. This is a salve to the usual spirit of needing more, more, more, of wanting to satisfy me, me, me.

I’m trying to practice the spirit of generosity, whenever I notice my greedy mind wanting everything, wanting more, wanting to get the most out of every day. Instead, I turn to this moment, each person, each activity, and give it the loving gift of my wholehearted attention.