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Earlier last year I put a sign up in my office that says: slow the f@$& down! You are enough!

And that pretty much sums up my struggle with this. 😂 and as an author, we live in our minds so much that we often don’t even realize we are working when we truly are. I will be learning these lessons my whole life, and I hope my kids learn them quicker. Thank you for sharing with us♥️

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It's a problem for creatives I think - writing used to be my hobby, but now it's my job, and I need to find a new hobby!

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William James wrote (though don't ask me where!) that free time is harder to manage than work time and, 150 years later, he is still right. The other quote that sprang to mind, reading this great post, is about enoughness (as opposed to too-muchness), and it's this: 'you can never get enough of something that is not quite enough'. Perhaps Adam Philipps said this, or was it Tristan Harris? Anyway, the point is that it's less that we are greedy than that we are needy.

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Ooh, that really landed with me. That we are needy, not greedy. Thanks for sharing

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I keep turning over the idea I read (and can’t remember where) that we go to bed feeling guilty that we didn’t accomplish enough during the day, and wake up feeling guilty that we didn’t rest enough during the night. Escaping the pressure to produce results takes practice, which seems counterintuitive. Maybe we need an app for that....

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Oh goodness, that's so true!

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Wow, that one’s going to sit with me for a bit, what you read. Just... wow.

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Thank you so much for this Katherine, I will be revisiting this post! I don’t know who ever told me to work hard and often, or whether I was just such a diligent student that I picked up this mentality myself, but I really recognise that feeling, that pressure, to be productive, to do, to be useful, to count. I now call myself a recovering productivity ninja, and feel like I’ve definitely made steps to change my relationship to work and rest radically, but it’s slow going. Trackers (such as Duolingo or Fitbit) have become absolute kryptonite to me 😅

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I've already got rid of my Fitbit and turned off anything on my phone that tracks my behaviour - maybe I need to find a new way to learn Spanish! It's a shame, because I like the cute owl :)

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Mar 23, 2023Liked by Katherine May

Why do all these learning apps for kids have to keep score and compare their scores to that of other kids? It is just cruel. I see this with my daughter and how it crushes her spirit sometimes. Does every facet of life have to be a competition?

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I so agree!

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Katherine, I "teach" retreats/workshops/etc. as well, and I've never been comfortable with the notion of a) being a teacher, or b) calling them workshops. It is the same with "teaching" poetry, which I am just wrapping a season of doing with 3rd – 8th graders on the Indian reservation north of where I live. But this ... THIS is revelatory:

"They are absolutely not writing retreats - there are plenty of good ones out there, but I don’t offer them :)"

The idea of opening up a space for people to "come home". That is exactly what I am trying to do. You have my immense gratitude for elucidating this so perfectly for me, and I am going to STEAL THE HECK out of it. Chi-miigwech, which is to say, "thank you very much" in Anishinaabemowin. 🙏🏽

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Steal freely! :)

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Oh gosh! This article speaks so much truth.

And not only are we expected to work, work, work, but those of us that are in caring roles - and can never stop - are considered 'less than'. Never feeling that we have done 'enough'.

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author

Such an important point - your work as a carer is not visible, so it doesn't count. It's upside-down!

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This very much resonated with me. As a born "pleasing achiever," I learned some of these lessons the hard way - via a stage 4 cancer diagnosis that slowed me down in a way that I was never willing or able to do myself. Thankfully, this non-elective 401 class wound up being highly effective, and after four and a half years separating my identity and value from what I do versus who I am, I find myself both a lot happier AND a lot more creative and impactful.

Separately, I cannot help but want to share a link for those who might be interested in a writing retreat, because I just signed up for a five day Write to Heal retreat hosted in Arizona by fellow Substacker @Christine Wolf of Writers Haven, and I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to write for myself versus for an audience. https://www.christinewolf.com/write-to-heal-retreats

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Mar 23, 2023Liked by Katherine May

I love this post, thank you! This social attitude and mindset of busyness, staying on track, often follows into retirement too. We are so often expected to be busy volunteering, or working part time for the benefits(???) of having a schedule, traveling, caring for grandkids...it took me a long time to learn or remember the value in just being! Reading, journaling, cooking for pleasure, sitting on the porch watching the birds, walking leisurely rather than racing to the next thing. I won’t be having grandkids to fill my time, but don’t feel unfulfilled by the choices my kids have made in that regard. Saying no to an invitation because I’m planning to have a quiet day, weekend, hour IS a plan and is valuable! Sometimes I feel like I spent the first 60 years being so busy that I might just rest quietly, peacefully, in whatever ways I choose, for the next decades.

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My goodness, if you can’t slow down in retirement, when can you! It sounds like you’re setting a wonderful example.

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Right?!? This culture of ours, maybe especially in the US, is relentless! Be/do/have more, better, fitter, prettier and wealthier than the next person, or than you were last year or last week. It’s exhausting, draining and depressing! I’d much rather do my own thing.

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Such important reflections! I have recently turned all notifications and trackers off in my life after years of meticulously tracking everything. I keep a paper journal of my days now to mark the important happenings, and am liberated from the relentlessness of my cel phone buzzing and pinging and nudging me ever on.

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This was such a brilliant post Katherine 🧡

By the way, my oldest daughter and I both use Duolingo, me to learn French, her to learn Japanese, and we always say ‘we’ve made the owl angry’ if we have missed a day learning because of the pressure to keep going on that app. They send you reminders and emails that you haven’t studied that day, it can be a bit much.

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I think I could learn to enjoy making the owl angry :)

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Mar 23, 2023Liked by Katherine May

Wow - I can so relate to this post Katherine.

It reminded me of that weight of expectation that you HAVE to perform, regardless of everything... rather than taking into consideration all the "other" influences of us being human.

While I love utilising AI for some things, you can't get away from the fact that AI is not human! And I truly believe that what we need more than anything at this point in history, is to recognise and celebrate our humanness!

And that is exactly what I do when I read your work!

You have my gratitude.

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This resonated with me very much, Katherine. Have you read Rest is Resistance by Tricia? If not, recommend it re grind culture etc.

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I have it on my desk right now! Just about to start :)

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founding

Oh my god- is nothing sacred? Not even the LOO? I am so addicted to these unbroken chains of productivity. I have, more than once, changed the time zone on my ipad so as not to lose the chain on my yoga app when I start late at night to do a bedtime stretch and it ticks past midnight. I know it’s absurd, and I do it anyway.

That spelling app sounds like something out of A Clockwork Orange. Maybe we need to find a way to build the one that sends kids out to play after getting the spellings? Or giving them a day to play midweek to refresh their brains?

Your book is needed even more than we realized. Thank you again for writing it. 💖

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The film "Perfect Days" and Tomiwa Owolade column in the Observer perfect response.

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