BOOKS 'N' BUBBLES: HOW TO NOT ALWAYS BE WORKING
A book with “self-care” in the title needs to be read in a bath, right? I think it’s kind of a rule. One of the stellar things about self-care as Marlee outlines it in this workbook is that self-care is PRODUCTIVE! It’s not a distraction from work; it is work. It’s maintenance work for your body and your brain so that you can be your most creative, productive self. It’s just that we were all taught that “productive” has to translate to “money,” and that can make it seem lazy to take a break. But if you don’t take a break you end up getting burnt out (AND less likely to revolt… oh wait sorry, that was the last book).
So here I am once again Books n’ Bubbling, this time accompanied by Marlee Grace’s empowering (and validating) workbook “How to Not Always Be Working: A Toolkit for Creativity and Radical Self-Care”. It’s a quick read but a long think, and Marlee peppers some great witchy tips for a supportive daily practice among insightful prompts about this whole notion of “work”. Her friends and colleagues share their practices too, giving different perspectives from multiple lifestyles.
Coming up with a bath for this one wasn’t a challenge; Sweet Dreams Bath Salt, my special labradorite palm stone, a white candle (per her suggestion on page 35), and a face mask because damn it my face GENUINELY needs it. Radical self-care, baby.
I don’t think I’m always working… am I?
I’m gonna be honest y’all… I struggled writing this one. I had to actually THINK and like, EXAMINE myself. Yuck.
Most people pick up this book because they know they’re always working. Content creators, business owners, they’re pretty much on the clock 24/7. People with multiple jobs or side hustles are painfully aware they’re always working. So they should read this book no question. But me? And perhaps you, dear reader? I’m in the shop from 10-6 five days a week. Sometimes I stay for the workshops, but someone always makes sure I get a good break or can come in late. I’m really, really lucky to work somewhere that values boundaries and self-care so much. Sometimes I check the customer service email on my day off, but I really think I have a very healthy work/life balance.
So when I went through this workbook I tried to think outside the box about what work actually is and why I do the things I do throughout my day (which is one of the first activities in the toolkit). Marlee Grace is very pro-shutting-off-your-phone (as she should be). And since I don’t consider myself someone who’s “always working” I decided to focus on that advice… which led to some very interesting revelations.
Oh no, maybe I am always working!
For me social media isn’t even entertainment so much as a habit, a compulsion. Most of the time it only takes me half an hour or so to catch up on any posts I’ve missed, another half hour to look for new accounts to follow… and then I spend the rest of the day scrolling past the same things over and over. I get bored eventually, but I can’t stop. It makes me feel useless when I look at the time and realize I’ve been sitting in bed on my phone for hours, but by then I’m so sluggish that it hardly even occurs to me to get up and do something else. And then I’ve “wasted” a whole evening.
It was really validating that so much of this workbook was about turning your phone off. I know that sounds really simple (and Marlee even jokes that the book could have been one sentence) but when the expectation is that everyone has access to you all the time, it’s actually really hard. Like I know I should put my phone away and stop scrolling, duh… but what if someone texts me? I have no excuse for not answering them right now, what if they get mad? Honestly, even writing that down feels kind of silly. Has anyone ever ACTUALLY been upset that it took me a few hours to answer a text or respond to a comment? Or is it just me feeling obligated to respond to a notification as soon as I see it? Is that my own anxiety channeling through the wifi? These are some tough questions, dear reader, but they’re really important. Technology is a huge part of our lives and communication (which is a major understatement) so I have to figure out a healthy way to interact with it. I’m gonna be working (no pun intended) on this one for a while.
Everyone is always working
Luckily this book isn’t just an inspirational talk, it’s a real plan. Marlee gives all kinds of prompts and action steps, like having a special place to put your phone away and giving your phone a bedtime. That’s one of the things I love about this book: it doesn’t just enlighten you and then leave you to figure out a solution on your own. Marlee is advising from a place of learning herself, and that compassion and solidarity makes it easier to feel empowered, not scolded.
There are a lot of other great tools in this book, too. Even if you don’t THINK you’re “always working” in the conventional sense (although lots of you are!) it turns out that being a person who interacts with other people is A LOT of work! Whether you’re building a business, maintaining a business, or supporting someone else’s business, you’re probably giving more of yourself than you should to SOME area of your life. This toolkit really helped me identify some of those areas and balance them, plus it’s darn funny and sweet too!
Paige Curtin is HausWitch's Shop Manager, bath witch, and blue-haired angel. You can find her at the shop, posting at @witchthevote, or baking too many cookies.
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