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I Stopped Working 5 Days a Week. Here’s What Happened.

This summer I’ve been running an experiment: since June 1st, I’ve been working a four day week.

For me, this looks like working Monday – Thursday, from about 9am-6pm(ish), and taking taking Friday – Sunday off.

I’m averaging of 35-40 hours of work per week, so I’m getting all my major tasks and client work done, despite the shorter workweek.

I have needed to adjust some of the deadlines on my deep work projects, to give myself more time to complete them.

I’m okay with that because not being burned out feels pretty amazing and it’s good for my work long-term. 

5 things to know about my 4 Day Workweek experiment:


1. After the summer ends, I won’t be going back to a 5 day workweek. 



2. That’s because the 40 hour, 5 day workweek is a construct. It’s just a made up amount of time we’ve been socialized to think is a “normal” workweek.

Countries outside of the US have different social and organizational norms about workweeks. 

100 years ago there was no such thing as a weekend.

It’s all made up. It’s always been an experiment!

We can make up something different that works better for us and our employees.

I recognize that not everyone can do this (there have been many years where I’ve worked 2-3 jobs to pay the bills and had no days off).

But if you do have the power and privilege to create something new for yourself and others, go for it. 



3. Flexibility is key. Some weeks I work a few hours on a Friday morning. Most weeks I don’t.

It’s important (to me) that I not get caught up in all-or-nothing thinking with this approach.

It’s likely that I will need to work 6 days a week here and there this winter in order to finish some big projects.

Work and play ebb and flow with the seasons, so I’m embracing those cycles. 



4. The research is clear that shorter workweeks boost productivity.

It’s good for organizations and it’s good for workers.

This year we’re facing an epidemic of burnout in North America – across all fields, not just animal welfare – so it’s time for a big change.

If you’re thinking about doing this at your org, there’s lots of evidence and advice out there. See here and here and here and here



5. And finally, people love my out-of-office message. Folks are excited to see someone publicly owning their time off.

What that tells me is that we need to explicitly talk about our rest and play.

We talk endlessly about how much we work, which may make it feel “risky” to publically share when we are choosing* not to work.

It’s one thing to share a “valid” excuse for taking time off, like a car accident or having COVID.

But just saying I’m off because I want to be off?! That’s inviting all kind of judgment.

*Side note: I’m not touching on the ableist ways we judge and penalize people with disabilities (“hidden” or otherwise) who absolutely need to work differently or they risk their health. That’s coming in another newsletter because we have to talk about all the problematic going back to “normal” post-pandemic stuff that’s happening. 

Here’s the bottom line: Practicing compassionate badassery means being able to tolerate the discomfort of doing things differently.

It’s worth it.

With 3 days off each week I feel better mentally and physically. I have more time for my family, friends, and pets.

I have some wiggle room in my week that allows me to adapt to what pops up without feeling totally overwhelmed.

In other words, I have a real life outside of work for the first time in years. 

Curious about my autoresponder? On Fridays it says:

“My summer hours are Monday – Thursday 9am-6pm ET. You can expect a response from me when I return to work on Monday. I’m experimenting with taking Fridays off this June-August because research shows that shorter workweeks are great for productivity and our wellbeing. It’s a win-win for everyone.Thinking about doing the same at your workplace? Consider this a sign!”

What about you? Are you experimenting with different work schedules?

Some links you might like:  


Against “Feel Free To Take Some Time If You Need It”: “When it comes to taking time off, the more explicitly mandated the break, the better. Instead of “feel free to take some time if you need it,” try “I’d really support you taking the day off.” Instead of a sentence at the end of a meeting about “make sure you’re taking that PTO,” an app that alerts you when an employee hasn’t taken any in a month.

For managers, that means modeling the behavior yourself: taking sick days, and personal days, and extended PTO, and being transparent about it — and not sneakily working in the margins. It means having enough people on staff so that a person can actually be sick, or take parental or bereavement leave, without the guilt of pouring work onto their already overburdened colleagues.”

Play with NPR’s Joy Generator. 

Time Is A Colonial Construct — Here’s How I Learned To Reclaim Mine: “Decolonization requires us to unpack the consequences of colonialism. What are its living legacies?

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, British society had largely correlated the notions of ‘civilization’ and ‘true religion’ with the profitable use of time. Their specific experience of time was a cultural construct, deeply embedded within their industrial-capitalist and Christian society. They used their clocks as a tool to dehumanize Indigenous people…’”

Link appreciation to Hilary, Aimee, and Patti Digh.

The #1 thing your boss doesn’t want me to talk to you about

When I’m facilitating workshops and webinars, organizations typically ask me to focus on teaching their staff self-care. 

No surprises there. Learning about self-care is really important.

But, as you’ve heard me say before, it’s only one part of the wellbeing puzzle.

The other half is organizational policies and practices, like workload, training and supervision, and equitable pay (because landlords don’t accept “I do yoga everyday!” as rent payment…yet).

Still, I’m happy to talk about self-care, because it’s what individuals have the most control over and it really does help. 

But here’s where it gets interesting:  

I’ve repeatedly been asked to leave out one specific element of self-care from my workshops. 

What do you think it is?

I’ll wait while you guess.

No, it’s not financial self-care.

Nope, it’s not sexual self-care.

It’s…

Spiritual self-care.

Lots of organizations do not want me to talk about spirituality with their staff. 

Which is a problem, because spirituality is a big part of what keeps us well while doing challenging work. 

I get why this topic feels taboo in our workplaces. 

I think it’s mostly because we confuse spirituality with organized religion. 

Religion and spirituality are not the same thing.

Religion: is an institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices; the service and worship of God or the supernatural.

Spirituality: connotes an experience of connection to something larger than you; living everyday life in a reverent and sacred manner.

Or as Christina Puchalski, MD (leader in trying to incorporate spirituality into healthcare), puts it,

“Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.”

You probably knew that already, but I didn’t understand the difference between the two until I was old enough to have a periodontist.

And it blew my non-religious mind. 

That’s when I understood that the aspect of my wellness wheel that was 99% missing were spiritual beliefs and intentional practices that would ground, connect, and sustain me. 

Since no one talks about the role of spirituality in our professional lives, I just figured it was like a bonus round of self-care you do if and when you had some extra time (like using a Waterpik when you’re already flossing and brushing).

Today I understand that regular spiritual care is fundamental to our wellbeing.

Spirituality can help us navigate through difficult choices about euthanasia and painful end-of-life experiences.

It can help us accept our fundamental limits as human beings, while also allowing us to feel connected to something much bigger than ourselves.

Spirituality can anchor our daily actions in our values and ethics, helping us to stay present with the suffering we witness and motivated to do difficult work. 

And it helps us tap into joy, purpose, and satisfaction. Career-sustaining stuff.  

So we’re doing ourselves and our staff a disservice if we don’t allow any acknowledgement of this important part of our individual and collective wellbeing. 

Still not sure spirituality has a place in our professional self-care?

In her research, Brené Brown found that across the board, the most resilient people have a spiritual life.

She shares, “Without exception the concept of spirituality emerged from the data as a critical component of resilience and overcoming struggle.”

If we want resilience for ourselves and our staff, then it’s time to welcome spirituality into our conversations about self-care. 

Because if there’s anything less effective than self-care, it’s censored self-care.

So if organizations want to keep the focus solely on self-care, instead of organizational care, they need to embrace ALL aspects of human wellbeing.

So what does spirituality look like at work? At home?

How does it help us care for ourselves, so we can keep giving to animals?

It starts by getting curious about what nurtures your spirit. Not mine. Yours.

What brings you joy? Creates a sense of awe? Connects you to meaning and purpose?

It may be organized religion for you or it could be something totally different, like sunsets or quantum physics. 

Whatever it is, how can you get more of that into your life on a regular basis?

And if you want to see spirituality in action at work, check out the Netflix show Lenox Hill.

Watch the staff engage in their pre-surgery ritual: a pause to connect with themselves, each other, the human-ness of each patient, and to quietly center themselves in whatever way works for them (it might be religious prayer, secular mantras, or just a deep breath). 

What would that look like in your workplace?

The Lesson I Hope We Learned From COVID

March 2020 to March 2021 has felt like a month and a decade rolled into one, hasn’t it?

So much heartbreak. So much joy. So many hours of Netflix. So many lessons learned. 

Which reminds me, have you heard the sweet poem The Great Realisation yet?

It reminds us to ask:

What, if anything, have we gained from this year of COVID? 

What, if anything, do we want to bring with us into this next chapter of our lives?

I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I value most this year (family, birdfeeders, libraries, memes, my lungs). 

But in terms of our work, one thing I really hope we’ve learned this past year is that resilience is dynamic and contextual. 

We typically view resilience as an evaluation of one’s individual efforts and character (if you’re not resilient, then you’re to blame. You should have self-cared harder!). 

Of course, our efforts to care for ourselves absolutely matter. But this year made it very, very clear what researchers have known for a long time: our resilience is context dependent.

An individual’s home and work environment, social support, and access to resources impacts their overall resilience. 

My hope is that COVID has sped up our understanding of the many organizational, social, cultural, and structural factors that impact individual resilience, so that going forward we’ll place equal importance on self-care efforts AND we-care initiatives. 

COVID reminded us there is no clean line between resilience at work and home.

What happens in our personal life impacts our work performance and what happens on the job impacts the quality of our life at home.

COVID also made it abundantly clear that while we may all be in the same storm, we’re in vastly different boats.

When this many people are struggling to keep their heads above water, we can’t keep pushing them (or ourselves) to work harder as if it’s business as usual. 

“Suck it up and deal” and “think positive” are cliches, not real strategies. Resilience is more complex than that. 

If you haven’t heard it yet, listen to Susan David and Brene Brown’s solid 2-part conversation on toxic positivity, emotions at work, and compassion fatigue.

They remind us that when we force ourselves (or others) to repeatedly repress our emotions and deny our biological needs it never ends well. 

When we consistently ignore our body’s needs and we keep our feelings bottled up it creates toxic internal pressure.

Eventually, we implode (mental and physical illness) or explode (outbursts and violence). 

So we’re going to need to intentionally make time to attend to our feelings and chronic stress now – and make space for our staff to do the same – or we’ll be forced to deal with the consequences later. 


One way that we can begin to help our own bodies rest and repair from this past year (and to cope with the continuing challenges ahead), is by building the skills of awareness and self-regulation.

Yes, those are individual self-care strategies. Because we need those too. 

Even if we can’t control what’s happening around us in the world or in our workplaces, we can change how we interact with and perceive these challenges, which can reduce some of the harmful effects of stress.

Self-regulation practices that soothe our nervous system can help us feel safer and steadier in our bodies. This allows us to access our thinking brain so that we can make better choices for ourselves and those around us.

It also gives us the capacity to hold space for the complexity of what it is to be fully human at work and at home.

If COVID has taught us anything it’s that it’s possible to radically change the way we work overnight.

This year, I hope we can apply that kind of radical thinking to worker welfare, whether we’re self-employed or have a staff of 500. 

If you’d like to explore these ideas for yourself or your staff, here are some resources:

  • If you’d like to try out some self-regulation practices, you can join us  in The Compassionate Badassery Lab for a webinar where we’ll look at the window of tolerance, trigger stacking, and how to shift out of chronic stress activation. You can join The Lab as a monthly member or annual member.

The Medicine We All Need in 2021: When Dogs Heal

Did you know that a really common symptom of compassion fatigue is cynicism?

Cynicism looks like a lot of eye rolling and feels like weariness and suspicion. 

Honestly, it’s a pretty understandable response to all the pain and suffering we witness at work and in the world.

Over time, stress and trauma-exposure will change the way we see things and makes it harder to trust people. 

Back when I worked at the shelter, there came a point when I thought everyone was lying and everything was destined to end badly.

I was a real hit at parties.

And by parties I mean the couch, where I cried-yelled-eye-rolled my way through vats of ice cream. 

But this is what traumatic stress does to us: it changes our perceptions and we struggle to connect with and see the good in people. 

Enter Jesse Freidin’s new book, When Dogs Heal: The Healing Power of Dogs Within the HIV Community.

Jesse is an amazing photographer. You may know him from his book about the animal rescue community called Finding Shelter whichI interviewed him about here.

When Dogs Heal was created by Jesse in collaboration with adolescent HIV+ specialist Dr. Robert Garofalo and it documents the experiences of people living with HIV and the dogs who help them though it all. 

Just about every story had me in happy tears.

Over and over people who had been cruelly rejected, isolated, marginalized, afraid, and in profound despair were found, seen, and healed by their dogs. 

Their stories confirm everything you and I know about the bond between animals and people: it’s magical and medicinal.

But their stories might also teach you something new, as they did for me, about what it’s like to live with HIV in 2021.

The continuing stigma is stunning and I’m grateful to the people who bravely shared their stories in this book.

But let’s get back to cynicism.

From my perspective as a former shelter adoption counselor, I couldn’t help but notice how many people in the book got their dogs from places that typically make us nervous (I’m looking at you Craig’s List) and checked the boxes that would typically get them rejected from adopting (in-between jobs, young, renting, un-housed, etc.).

Despite that, all the stories (with one exception) had a happy ending for the dogs.

The conditions were imperfect and challenging, yet the dogs are still deeply loved, protected, and cherished by their humans. 

The families in this book are everything we could hope for in an adopter.

And so this gorgeous book has an unintended consequence for those of us in animal welfare: it’s the antidote to cynicism. 

Reading the stories will make you feel the way you did, before the work hurt your heart. 

Sometimes, when all the bad stuff we witness has hardened and exhausted us, we need to have our hearts broken open again.

We need something to help us shake off the cynicism, so we can feel hope and know joy.

We need stories that will shift and widen our perspective, so we don’t cause harm.

We need to know these stories exist, so that we can heal a little too. 

When Dogs Heal is the kind of heart-medicine that we all need right now. You can get your copy here.

2021 Word of the Year: Reverence

Do you have a word of the year (WOTY)? WOTY is a word or a short phrase that serves as an intention for the year to come. 

For me, WOTY is 1000% more helpful than New Year’s resolutions. It’s serve as my compass for how I want to live my life for the next 12 months. 

Here are some of the words I’ve chosen in the past:

2020: Deliberate
2019: n/a
2018: Ease and Receive
2017: Joyful Responsibility
2016: Full
2015: Integrate

Looking back on 2020, DELIBERATE turned out to be a tough, but helpful WOTY. I started off the year making very intentional, non-reactive choices about how I spent my time.

Enter COVID.

The pandemic slammed me into reactive mode, busy in the extreme, struggling to be deliberate and consistent in caring for myself.

But it turned out that just knowing my WOTY was DELIBERATE helped, because it kept me honest about how unintentional I was being each day.

That awareness helped me to re-assess and, eventually, to pump the brakes on the runaway car that was my work life. I was able to end the year with a return to a more deliberate approach.

Some of you may remember that I took 30 days off of social media in January 2020.

This January, I left completely (more on that coming soon!).

The choice to leave social media personally and professionally was the result of my WOTY – my intention to live a more deliberate life.

Which brings us to 2021.

I was looking for a word that would capture my desire to be fully present with and grateful for the animals and people I love, to feel satisfied with what I have and what I can do, to care deeply for my body and the land I live on, and to not miss out on the beauty of being alive because of my tendency towards perpetual busy-ness.

That’s a lot to ask of one word!

It took me a week and then, on New Year’s Day REVERENCE popped into my head.

Reverence means to have profound respect, mingled with love, devotion, or awe.

Yep, that’s the one. 

So I asked myself: What does reverence look like in daily life?

I think it may come down to this: to be reverent is to have radical respect and gratitude for all aspects of life. 

Approaching daily life with reverence requires a certain degree of slowness, simplicity, and openness.

It takes the word DELIBERATE and adds heaps of gratitude and mystery and love.

Some of you may be familiar with Albert Schweitzer’s work with animals and his philosophy of Reverence for Life.

He wrote, “Reverence for Life says that the only thing we are really sure of is that we live and want to go on living. This is something that we share with everything else that lives, from elephants to blades of grass – and of course, every human being. So we are brothers and sisters to all living things, and owe to all of them the same care and respect that we wish for ourselves.”

Rabbi Abraham Heschel gets right to it: “Reverence is a salute of the soul, an awareness of the inherent value of all beings.”

Many of you work with animals and already have a deep reverence for their lives.

But what about your own life?

Do you believe in your own inherent value, apart from what you can produce?

And do you offer yourself the same care and respect you generously give to animals?

I struggle with this and I know that many of you do as well.

That’s why I chose REVERENCE for 2021.

Reverence is my intention to stay connected to what is most meaningful for me, approaching all areas of my life with radical respect, so that I am present with what is sacred.

“Living in a sacred manner means looking upon the ordinary with a mystical eyesight. When seen differently, the common things are soon handled in a different way – with reverence.” – Edward Hays

What would be different if I looked at the everyday parts of my life with reverence? How would I relate differently to:

  • My body, mind, and spirit?
  • My family and friends, human and animal, past and present?
  • The people I have the privilege to work with and care for?
  • The animals, plants, minerals, and water in my yard and around the world?
  • What I consume – from food to information?

How would life be different if I moved at the speed of radical respect and awe?

I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to finding out in 2021!

Because reverence is such a BIG word, I chose a 2nd, more earth-bound, support word for 2021: CONSISTENCY.

For me to live with reverence I need structure, routine, and ritual.

Like many of us, when things are very stressful I tend to drop my most supportive structures – just when I need them most. This immediately takes me out of living with a deep respect for myself (not to mention others), so this year consistency is married to reverence.

What about you? What’s your WOTY?

Whatever word you chose (or don’t!), I’m wishing you a year filled with laughter, health, happiness, and safety.

My Fake TED Talk: Practicing Compassionate Badassery [Shifting from Self-Care to We-Care]

Earlier this year I gave a short presentation at a national animal welfare conference, but since it cost $$ to attend (unless you lucked out with a scholarship) my talk wasn’t accessible to most folks in animal shelters. 

This presentation – I’m calling it my fake TED Talk – is my deepest wish for the animal welfare field. So I really wanted to make it available for everyone!

Want to know my challenge to the field and 5 things we can do right now to increase worker wellbeing? Click the image below to find out:

Want more resources? Check this page out.

BIPOC Mental Health Resources (plus, affordable therapy options for all)

Right now, with all that’s happening in our country – including the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, and racial violence – we could all use more support and therapy.

Sadly, therapy is not accessible to everyone who needs it, even those with health insurance.

And not every therapist will create a safe space for BIPOC and LGBTQIA clients, so therapy isn’t always a positive experience.

I believe that everyone who works in a helping profession would benefit from mental health support, so I’ve been gathering a list of more accessible, culturally-sensitive resources to add to the CiB Program. I thought I’d share that here with everyone.

Before I do, I want to acknowledge that all human beings struggle and are exposed to trauma.

But folks who are part of the BIPOC community have distinctly different experiences of racial trauma and systemic oppression that needs to be acknowledged. 

See: What is racial trauma?

Below is a list of affordable mental health options for everyone, as well as some specific resources for BIPOC.

Everyone deserves support. I hope this list makes it a little easier for you to find the support that truly meets your individual needs. 

General resources for affordable support:

7 Cups, free emotional support

Emotional support hotlines (warm lines) directory

General resources for affordable, inclusive therapy:

How to find affordable therapy.

The Open Path Collective, a non-profit that offers reduced cost, inclusive therapy

Ayana an app that connects marginalized and intersectional communities to online mental health help (offers limited free online help for frontline workers during COVID)

Inclusive Therapists directory offers a number of resources for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, the LGBTQ+ community, neurodivergent people, and people with disabilities

Therapist directories and resources for Black men and women:

The Loveland Foundation offers resources for Black women and girls, including financial assistance for therapy

BEAM: Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective offers a Black virtual therapist directory (for tele-sessions)

Therapy for Black Girls directory

Therapy for Black Men directory

Melanin and Mental Health dope therapist directory

Boris L Henson Foundation therapist directory and free telehealth session

National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network

Looking for more? Check out 44 Mental Health Resources for Black People Trying to Survive in This Country for a comprehensive list of resources. 

Tips on how to find an anti-racist therapist from @melaninandmentalhealth:

I’ll be adding these resources to The CiB program, so that they’re a permanent resource going forward. If you know of any resources you’d like to see added to this list, please leave a comment.

I do want to I acknowledge that I am a white, straight, cis-gendered female and it’s not my intention to cause harm to anyone with this post, but if I do – please let me know. I am open to your feedback.

My 30 Day Social Media Sabbatical

On January 1st, 2020 I logged off of social media for 30 days. I wrote about that here.

You all had some thoughts about this! I got so many emails and comments after sending out that newsletter.

Turns out taking a social media break is something a LOT of you want to do. 

I know you’re curious about how it went, so….

What happened?

My business did not collapse. 

My mother still recognizes me. 

I did not die of FOMO.

I did get 2 hours a day back.

I’ll say that again:

I gained an “extra” 2 hours a day.

Sometimes more.

It was shocking.

To be honest, I consider myself to be a relatively light social media user.

Even though I manage multiple business pages and groups for my work, I don’t post daily. I’ve taken week-long breaks before.

I didn’t expect that much to change, logistically speaking, during this 30 day break.

Here’s what I discovered:

READ a lot of posts. I click on a lot of articles.

I read in 5 and 10 minute increments. Just a little dab of social sprinkled into every single hour. 

That adds up to 2-3 hours a day. 

And I did it without thinking. 

I cannot tell you how many times an hour I would catch myself mindlessly going to check Facebook.

Checking social media has become a (costly) filler for what I really need: a little break.

So in January I did this instead:

  • I took a real break if I needed it.
  • I switched to a new task.
  • I recommitted to finishing what I was working on.

Because of this, I finished my to-do list every single day.

Which meant I could do what I always want to do, but never have “enough” time or energy for.

Things like researching my family tree, doing more yoga, finishing old projects, or talking on the phone with long distance friends. 

What could you do with an hour or two more a day??

I also got back a lot of energy because I wasn’t thinking about posting.

I may not post daily, but I DO find myself thinking about it.

As I go about my day I’m semi-aware that I’m shaping my experience into a narrative that I might potentially post.

It was massively liberating to let that running exposition in my mind turn off completely.

Here’s my point: you may not realize how social media is sucking up your time and energy until you stop using it. 

I never would have guessed I read or thought about it as much as I did.

What will you discover if you take a break?

Were there any downsides?

Nope.

  • My private Facebook group monitored themselves and continued supporting one another in my absence.
  • I booked new coaching clients.
  • I reconnected with past clients and students through writing more newsletters.
  • I stayed in touch with my loved ones.
  • I felt re-energized at work and came up with ideas for my shelter program that I’m excited about (more on that next time).

Many of you shared my concerns about running a business without social media.

My fear was largely based on the assumption that I make sales through social media.

This experience helped me to see that I do NOT make sales through social media.

I get the majority of my work through word of mouth, repeat customers, speaking gigs, and this newsletter. 

Social media is useful as a way to stay in touch, to allow new folks to get to know me better, and to support one another.

But it’s not how I keep a roof over my head. 

Maybe that’s the case for you too. It’s worth figuring out. 

What now?

I’m back on FB and IG. I do need to be on social media to some extent for my work.

Currently, my plan is to post/check social media 2 days a week:

  • I made a calendar as a guide
  • I took all social apps off my phone 
  • I do 99% of my social media on my laptop at my desk

It’s my attempt at being intentional about using this tool.

It’s enough for me to stay connected, but without giving up all that wonderful brain space and time I enjoyed in January. 

Any other takeaways?

If I keep spending 2 hours a day on social media that means I’m giving up more than 29,000 hours of my life (assuming I live to be 80).

That’s 12,000 days.

And I’m not including TV here. Just social media.

I absolutely do not want to spend 12,000 days of my life on Facebook. 

What I do want is meaningful relationships and deep work. 

Both of which take time to nurture. 

And that means I need to be more deliberate about how I spend my time.

I can’t be in relationship with EVERYONE online.

I can’t say yes to ALL the projects I’m interested in. 

Being off of social media helped me see and accept this (human) limitation. 

“We can only deeply, truly offer our best love and care to a finite number of people, relationships, or goals in one human life.” – Wayne Mulller

Ironically, by embracing my limits, I feel freer.

Want to give it a shot?

1. Plan for a 30 day break. If you can’t do that, try 7 days. I didn’t really feel the full benefit of being off social until two weeks in.

2. Take yourself 100% off of social media. I didn’t struggle with the choice because there was no choice. Choices take energy and lead to decision fatigue. 

Being 100% off social = one less choice to make.

3. Not ready to go all out? Try some of the ideas I shared in January

The way you use social media may already be working well for you, so I’m not suggesting taking a break is what everyone needs to do. But doing it consciously – that’s the ticket.

Whatever you choose to do, remember:

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” – Annie Dillard

How do you want to spend your hours? Hit reply and let me know. 

I’m Taking a Social Media Break

Happy New Year! I love how the start of a new calendar year creates a natural pause for reflection and intention.

With a whole new decade about to start, I asked myself what I want in 2020:

The answer was simple and clear: space to rest.

I want to rest my brain, body, and heart.

In the first draft of this letter I told you ALL the reasons why I needed to rest.

But then I deleted it. 

I was trying to justify to you (to myself) why it’s okay for me to do less.

In other words, I was trying to prove to you that I earned a break.

Then I called bullshit on myself and hit delete. 

Because if I know anything, it’s that we do not need to earn our right to rest.

We do not need to earn our right to care for ourselves.  

So I’m going to rest.

Full stop.

Still, it feels dangerous to say that without offering up justification. That’s how loaded rest is in our culture.

It brings up feelings of guilt and shame.
And judgments of weakness and laziness.
And fears of what other people will think.

But all the same crap comes up when I’m super busy too. That’s how I know it’s not the truth.

Because no matter what I do, the same feelings, thoughts, and fears pop up. It’s a rigged game. 

So why not rest?



When it comes to rest and work, the book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight In Our Busy Lives, by Wayne Muller has been my guide lately:

“All life requires a rhythm of rest…we have lost that essential rhythm. Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something – anything – is better than doing nothing…

Even when our intentions are noble and our efforts sincere – even when we dedicate our lives to the service of others – the corrosive pressure of frantic over activity can nonetheless cause suffering in ourselves and others…

Even a good heart can cause harm if it has no rest in it…We are a nation of hectic healers, refusing to stop. Our drive to do better faster, to develop social programs more rapidly, to create helpful agencies more quickly can create a sea of frantic busyness with negligible, even questionable results. In our passionate rush to be helpful, we miss things that are sacred, subtle and important.”
 
I’ve been rushing to be helpful for as long as I can remember. It’s not working for me anymore and frankly, it’s getting in the way of me showing up for my work in a way that feels right for me. 

I need to rest, so that I can approach my work with, as Muller says, “greater ease and joy, and bring healing and delight to our endeavors.”

To be clear, when I say I’m going to rest more, I’m still working full time. 

But I’m being very deliberate with my time at work and very deliberate about expanding my life beyond work in 2020. 

I’m getting really picky about how I spend my time and energy.

My first deliberate act of rest in 2020 is to take 30 days off of all social media.

This includes stepping away from my private Facebook group. Which feels very scary to me. Will I be judged? Will I upset the group? Will I lose business? Lose relevance? Lose control of my work?

Maybe. 

Here’s the truth: I love connecting with all of you, but I’m having trouble accessing that place within me that has something meaningful and original to offer. 

So I need to rest. For me and for you.

I want to return to my work with something to say that comes from a deeper place, my own inner wellspring. Something that’s actually worth saying.
 

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
-Tao Te Ching
 

On 1/1/20 I’m starting a 30 day sabbatical from social media. Just enough to let the choppy waters in my mind start to calm, so I can make stronger offers (as Patti Digh would say).

I know that many of you would also like to take a break from social, so here’s what’s helped me: 

1. Digital Minimalism offers a 3 step criteria for evaluating how and when we use social, but it also has practical tips that led me to change my Facebook feed dramatically.

  • I unliked 1500 pages (and kept 5-ish)
  • I unfollowed all of my friends 
  • I bookmarked my Facebook group, so that I go directly there, instead of my newsfeed

This has been game changing. My newsfeed is now a short list of local events and a few thoughtful posts. I literally cannot endlessly scroll anymore. My newsfeed ENDS.When I want to see what a friend or group is up to, I choose to go to their page.

2. Alexandra Franzen’s free webinar on how to get off social media.

If you’re self-employed and afraid of what will happen to your business if you reduce or eliminate social, this is for you. Not only will it give you great ideas for marketing and connecting, but Alex is proof that you can be successful without using social media AT ALL.

What’s next? At the end of my 30 day digital sabbatical, I’ll evaluate how it feels to return to Facebook and Instagram.

Ethically speaking, I would rather not use Facebook at all.

I’m allowing myself to truly consider, for the first time in 10 years, the possibility that I can be off of Facebook and still have a business that supports others and is profitable.

But I’ll allow myself to make that call later in 2020. For now, I rest. 

Thank you for being in conversation with me, for witnessing my attempts at figuring out how to live this one wild and precious life. 

May you find the rest and renewal that you so deeply deserve in this new decade. 

This Question Could Change Your Life

I have a New Years resolution for you.

This goes double if the holidays were a strain on your:
Time
Finances
Energy
Emotions
Relationships
Pets
Waistlines (c’mon, I can’t be the only one who eats sugar cookies for breakfast Christmas week?!).

When we have so much coming at us in our free time, plus work, it wears down our ability to make good choices for ourselves.

Our boundaries get wonky.

Overwhelm arrives. And with overwhelm comes drama, reactivity, and loads of poor self-care choices. Cue exhaustion.

So as you move into 2019, here’s one simple way you can repeatedly steer yourself away from overwhelm.

Every time you are faced with a choice, pause and ask yourself:

Is this energizing or draining?

Sometimes we have to do stuff that drains us. That’s life.  

But loads of times we do things we don’t really want to do because we’re telling ourselves we “should” do them. That drains us.

  • I should go to the gym 5 days a week because that’s what a good New Year’s resolution looks like. 
  • I should accept that dinner invite because I’m a nice person and that’s what nice people do. 
  • I should let my friends bring their dogs over to my house, because my dog should be able to handle having canine guests and because I should be polite. 


Imagine if, before you answered these requests, you paused and asked yourself: does this feel energizing for me or does it feel draining?

If it feels draining, can you give yourself permission to say NO?

Instead, can you say HELL YES to spending your limited resources on what you actually need right now? Or what authentically feels good?

If so, would you choose resting instead of running? Or a peaceful visit with friends instead of a dog fight over dinner?

I did this earlier in the week when I kept pushing myself to meditate. Why all the resistance I wondered?

Then I asked myself: If I’m being honest with myself, does meditating feel energizing or draining right now? The clearest answer came back: draining!

What would feel energizing I asked? Taking a pottery class instead.

OKAY!



You can back away from the edge of overwhelm by pausing before you automatically agree to requests from other people.

You can back away from exhaustion by asking yourself if what you’re about to make yourself do energizes or drains you.

If it feels draining and you’re leaning towards doing it anyway, ask yourself:

If you knew that no one would ever judge you for saying NO, would you still say YES?

You have a right to choose what works for you.

That might mean going against the grain of what other people expect you to do for them or what our cultural says “good people” who have their shit together do.

Make your resolutions work for you.

Lean towards what naturally sparks your energy. It doesn’t always have to be so hard, you know?

Cheers to an energizing 2019!

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