Sabbath rest

My mom sent me this link to an article by Mark Bittman (one of my favorite food writers, but this has nothing to do with food). In it he describes something I've been doing for the past year or so: a weekly sabbath.

Somewhere around last February, I realized I was thinking about work ALL the time; and because I often work out of my home, it's always there in front of me. (Not to mention house work.) So, on the wise advice of some dear friends, I instituted a weekly stop time: Friday at 5pm until Saturday after dinner. (Our friends have done this with their three small children, who now understand and expect that this is a set-aside time; they have special toys and games that they only get out on sabbath, for example, and they have things like "sabbath chewing gum" and "sabbath family naps.")

This practice has literally changed my life. But as Bittman says, it takes work (i.e., discipline) to not work. As a culture, we're so wired into productivity that it feels lazy to take "so much" time off. For the first few weeks, I had to try really hard not to check my email, or make phone calls, or do the laundry, or even cook (unless it would be restful, non-work-type cooking), and especially not to THINK about work. But over time, it's gotten easier, and now I look forward to it as a time to recharge myself and who I am and what I love. I read non-work-related books; I watch silly movies; I go for longer walks than usual, on different paths; I try a new restaurant with Dave; I sit and stare out the window. Best of all is when I do something that I love but haven't done in ages, like painting. It gets my brain and heart into a totally different place that when I'm in work mode. And I think I'm better for it, better at letting go, better at maintaining perspective on the world of work.

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