Shauna Niequist, one of my favorite writers, coined the term “fake resting” in her latest book, Present Over Perfect. She defines it as that phenomenon when you are doing a bunch of tasks around the house, but you’re wearing pajamas, so you tell yourself you’re resting. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, but I’d say it went even a step further: I took a fake break.
I’ve been in a season of big changes and too many things on my plate—many of which, unfortunately, I can’t drop or delegate. Instead of intentionally taking a break from the things I could—writing, working out, etc.—I basically pretended to keep doing them without making any real progress.
I sat down to write during Selah’s nap time, but I found myself spinning my wheels trying to decide what to do and then getting distracted by Instagram. I put off my workouts, thinking Maybe tomorrow or Surely this weekend, and sometimes I did them and sometimes I didn’t. I prioritized getting off the couch to go to bed earlier, but then I wasted that extra time puttering around the kitchen or checking Instagram yet again. (I’m sensing a theme.)
Because I never declared myself to be on an intentional break, especially with writing, I felt a lot of guilt for constantly missing my self-set deadlines or failing to meet expectations—deadlines and expectations I created for myself, which I totally had the power to revise or rescind. I berated myself for not producing content in the same quantities as I had in previous seasons and for not being organized, efficient, motivated, and inspired enough. I told myself that I’d never make it as a writer if I can’t even publish more than one piece in a month.
What in the world? Why am I so mean to myself? Do you do this too?
This November, as we look ahead to the holiday to-do and to-buy and to-wrap lists, to the endless merriment we feel like we need to make, let’s choose real rest instead of fake rest. Let’s put on our pajamas and actually sit on the couch with our kids. Let’s go to bed an hour early and not scroll our phones for that extra time. Let’s cancel the plans that feel like too much and not use that time to make an extra trip to Target. Let’s let ourselves off the hook.
Here’s more about what I’m learned, loved, and read in October.
What I Learned
- If I feel like I’m doing too much, I’m doing too much. Related to the above: It doesn’t matter if objectively I have balanced or achieved more in other seasons. If I feel overwhelmed, that’s a valid reason to take care of myself.
- Planners can solve a lot of problems. Also related to the above: I’ll be the last person to ever suggest that the solution to a clutter problem is lack of storage bins or that the solution to a busyness problem is lack of a good planning tool. BUT, my recent feelings of being overwhelmed were certainly compounded by the fact that I had abandoned my planner (a punishable offense for an ISFJ). My calendar and to-do lists were living IN MY HEAD (the horror!), which made everything feel a whole lot scarier. Making a few simple lists and getting tasks onto a calendar made me feel instantly more calm and in control of those scary shadow monsters.
- Honesty is the most freeing policy. A few weeks ago a friend returned my phone call after a long stretch since I had called her. She apologized, said she’d been struggling with self-discipline lately, and asked my forgiveness. I found her words so honoring and so freeing. Since I’m in exactly the same boat, I’ve been telling this truth to the people with whom I’ve struggled to communicate efficiently, and it’s a whole lot better than making an excuse, even a valid one.
What I Loved
- Beauty tip: This curling wand. I’ve bought three curling wands and a curling iron in the past year, but I keep coming back to this one as my tried and true favorite for low-maintenance curls.
- Coffee hack: Add a dash of cinnamon to your coffee grounds for an infusion of fall goodness. (Be careful with the size of your dash—a tiny bit goes a long way.)
- Podcast: Impolite Company with Nish Weiseth and Amy Sullivan. These two brilliant women shirk the etiquette rule that says you can’t discuss politics or religion in polite company. There are only two episodes so far, so you’re not too far behind to catch up.
- Recipe: Paleo Zuppa Toscana. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but this is my go-to fall and winter (and even early spring) meal. I use white potatoes instead of parsnips and I add an additional pound of meat (ground turkey) to bulk it up.
What I Read
- Still Life by Louise Penny: Several readers I trust recommended the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny, but I found myself not in love with this very slow first installment. I get the appeal of the “cozy mystery” and I liked the main character enough to keep going. My friends have assured me the series really picks up the pace in books three and four, so I’m hoping to time it right so I get to those books on my vacation next month!
- The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller: I read this one for work, which seems appropriate considering my job title is copy editor. It was quick and enjoyable, though not anything earth shattering. I appreciated Saller’s snarky humor and would definitely recommend this to new editors or people who want to break into the field.
- We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren: Technically I’m only 1/4 of the way into this year-long devotional, but I wanted to share about it now in case you’re looking to start something new for Advent or the new year. This a weekly rather than a daily devotional, with a few chapters of Scripture readings and then a few pages of exploration. This sentence from the Amazon description sums up the book better than I can: “Each reading invites you to . . . reimagine what it means to live joyfully and responsibly in today’s world as agents of God’s justice, creativity, and peace.”
What I Clicked
- This piece about moms sticking together left me crying in my office, and then a sweet coworker found me and I had to explain that I everything was actually fine.
- “The exchange of power for oneness is where the power of the gospel, and Christian marriage, resides.” A thoughtful look at why egalitarian marriages are necessary in the church.