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Dear Friends,

August in the northern hemisphere seems to demand idleness. No-one replies to your emails, restaurants and stores are closed, cicadas buzz, the sun is hot, beers and ciders and pale yellow wines beckon from the back of the fridge. Even if you wanted to be productive, the world seems determined to change your mind.

So I decided to embrace it, and extend all my August weekends by a couple of days.

The first one didn't go so well, not gonna lie. Last Saturday was my birthday and it was nice: cake, fried chicken, lazing around, a dumb movie. But on Sunday I fell into a slump — maybe post-birthday, maybe just because mid-summer is a difficult time of year for me. I moped around for a couple more days, and voila, my first long weekend was over. Boo. 👎🏻

I decided to write about rest today to help myself come up with a plan for next weekend, since my ad hoc leisurely weekend obviously didn't work out. I hope this newsletter also inspires you to rest, play, and get the most out of August. (With perennial apologies to my southern hemisphere readers, with whom I am always out of step.)

Thank you for reading,
Amy
Two macaques rest in a hot spring.
Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre - Albert Camus.

It's August, and I'm trying to take it easy. I take it easy all year round, of course. I'm naturally a fairly indolent person, I like to have fun and laze about, but more than that, I believe leisure is a matter of social justice: everyone is entitled to rest and play in the way that they see fit.

For some people, rest and play is what life is all about. They don't expect much from work, they just clock in and work hard so they can enjoy a beer with friends, a weekend at the lake, or a faraway vacation. Others go the opposite way — if they relax at all it's in service of work. They rest to be more refreshed, and play to inspire creativity.

Most of us land somewhere in the middle, wherever you stand it's worth putting a little attention into doing leisure properly. In her book The Art of Rest, Claudia Hammond investigates the subject, and the following prescription for leisure draws heavily on the last chapter of the book.

First, make it a priority. Convince yourself that you are entitled to take your leisure, whether it's to improve your work, to honour the workers who fought for weekends, or just because you're worth it. The fact is, leisure is not an indulgence, it's a necessity.

Make time for it. Plan it, put it in your calendar, put in on your to-do list, tell your accountability buddies: whatever works for you. If you don't plan to rest and play, your body will make the decision for you and you'll burn out.

Design your own leisure. As Hammond says, rest is "a case of self-diagnosis and self-prescription." Your choice of leisure is a highly personal thing, dependent on your values, what relaxes you and what energizes you.

What are the ingredients of leisure? Often, rest entails a break from people — a solitary walk, quiet time to read, a long soak in the tub. Play often involves others — online gaming, puzzle nights, karaoke, sports.

Think about what you need. Do you want to rest your body, or your mind? Or exhaust your body to relax your mind? Cryptic crosswords or reality TV, dozing in a hammock or taekwondo? Maybe your ideal day of leisure is a combination, like a Run to Beer, or a day of canoeing and portaging followed by an evening of campfire songs and tall tales.

Distraction is often a necessary ingredient — an engrossing novel or movie might be just the thing to get you off a hamster wheel of worries.

It's lovely to rest and play in big chunks: long weekends, two-week vacations. But you can also grab little rests along the way. Getting stuck in traffic or caught in a subway delay or lineup might be an opportunity to listen to music or to notice tension in your body and relax your muscles. You can even manufacture your own moments of grace, by taking the long way home or using the time it takes the water to boil for tea to gaze out the window instead of checking email. Notice and enjoy opportunities to do nothing.

Whatever you end up doing, do it consciously. Give it 100% of your attention, and reflect on it later: Were you relaxed? Were you rested? Were you inspired? Did you have fun? For heaven's sake, don't waste your precious leisure time on things that aren't doing it for you.

One last thing: don't take it too seriously. The paradox of leisure is that as soon as you feel like you ought to be doing it, it isn't leisure any more. Hold your pursuit of rest and recreation lightly, and enjoy it. You deserve it.

What's NewStriding purposefully into a better future I hope

Along with taking time off, I've also decided to achieve absolutely nothing this month. I mean, obviously... I'm writing this newsletter, I'm attending classes, I'm coaching. But I'm not working on my website or brewing up new marketing ideas – no projects. I'm giving my brain a rest from all that stuff, so that I am refreshed and ready to hit the ground running in September. Tune in to my next newsletter to see how it's going! 📻

Fun and Interesting

  • ...the fallacy that a systemic problem can be addressed if we, as individuals, just try harder to fix ourselves. This New York Times review by Kate Crittenden of Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte reinforces a dynamic that I am mindful of as a coach: that systems of oppression want people to take personal responsibility for systemic problems. On Top of Everything Else [getpocket.com]
  • Over on YouTube I've discovered a way to somewhat satisfy my wanderlust from home: long, unadorned videos of walks around city neighbourhoods. This user does nice long walks in Tokyo. Also very far away (from me, at least), a guy named Anton in Zheleznogorsk (not sure if the Zheleznogorsk near Ukraine or the Zheleznogorsk in Siberia) feeds the feral cats by his house and makes strangely sweet little videos about them. [youtube.com]
  • Recommendation engines come and go. This one recommends authors, movies, bands, art or products based on what you already like. It's clean and satisfying to use, and a bit of a time sink. The Global Network of Discovery [gnod.com]

Thank you for reading this far!

If you like what you read, hit reply and let me know, or forward it and let someone else know. If you have questions or comments, hit reply and let me know. If you have seen something interesting out there, hit reply and let me know. Are you seeing a trend here? If so... hit reply and let me know! I look forward to hearing from you. ❤️

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Amy Rhoda Brown Coaching
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Copyright © 2020 Amy Rhoda Brown Coaching, All rights reserved.


I live and work on land which for thousands of years has been part of the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe and the Huron-Wendat. Today, this meeting place is still home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island, and I am glad to be able to live and work here.

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