Self care and the need for leisure
August 12, 2015 10:49 AM   Subscribe

A cruelly optimistic relationship to self-care is one in which self-care is envisioned primarily as a means to rejuvenate us so that we’re able to work faster and harder—precisely the condition that has caused so much of our stress to begin with.

We need to argue, then, not just for the ability to “balance” two kinds of work, but for the right to free time—to leisure and pleasure. As women, we need to do so particularly because the idea that “family” is the only option outside of “work” is a dated, sexist ideal whether or not one has children, wants them, or can't stand the sight of them.
posted by stoneweaver (72 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
 
8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for what we will.

The classics never go out of style.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:52 AM on August 12, 2015 [48 favorites]


Gonna go with "Shore Leave" here.
Spock: The greater the complexity of the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.
Now if you excuse me, I have a score to settle with my old Academy nemesis Finnegan.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:01 AM on August 12, 2015 [26 favorites]


Oh yeah. That makes a lot of sense.
posted by redsparkler at 11:05 AM on August 12, 2015


Oooh, I have been thinking about this lately. Last night I was doing a "yoga for self-care" online video (this one; it's great) and at one point the instructor said something like (paraphrasing) "Taking time for self-care helps you to be better at all the roles you play in your busy life." And on the one hand, there are many women who are trained to never ever take a moment for themselves because it's "selfish," so if it helps them justify self-care, I'm glad that line was included. On the other hand, I was like, dude, I'm doing this because it feels goooood, so screw those other roles, this is for me. And then I finished the practice and got high and read silly books all evening, and it was great.

Similarly, a good friend of mine who's going through extreme crisis right now justified going into treatment by saying something like, "I live for other people, it fuels me and I love it, but if I don't take care of myself right now I won't be able to help others, which is why I have to do this." I wanted to scream no, you have to do this because you are worthy of peace and happiness all on your own, even if all you do with that peace and happiness is get drunk and eat donuts. But these are baby steps, and if believing that she needs to do this for others is what gets her to a place where she can begin building a worldview that will allow her to do it for herself, fine. The end justifies the means.

But it is a crutch, this idea that we're only allowed to take care of ourselves if it benefits others. Great articles.
posted by sunset in snow country at 11:12 AM on August 12, 2015 [61 favorites]


I found this article interesting because I have often thought of a lot of self care as just more work and my friends or family don't understand that. They've asked me why I don't just join X club or do Y sport and I'm always like, I don't want or need more commitments on my time. It's hard to find a way to relax sometimes that doesn't just feel like more work. I often feel that my relaxation time is really just a reboot to get me through work again. I think the only thing that would help would be to feel like work didn't monopolize my life but then again everyone wants that and our culture here is so work work work that I doubt it'll change in my lifetime. Anyway thanks for posting these articles.
posted by FireFountain at 11:17 AM on August 12, 2015 [46 favorites]


For a while, I was getting emails about productivity and focus and other things to help you do more and better work. What made me snap was an article linked on Twitter about people listening to audiobooks at 2x, so they can maximize the amount of information they can squeeze in. I snapped, and wrote a long, angry screed about the constant demand to do MORE WORK. MORE MORE MORE.

The culture is broken. There is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself, damn it.
posted by SansPoint at 11:22 AM on August 12, 2015 [32 favorites]


It's a really interesting article, and I feel like the phenomenon has some connection to the expectation to be at peace with one's circumstances at all times and to forgive a trespasser instantly, but I'm having trouble articulating it. It's like some pernicious secular signs of the Elect.
posted by The Gaffer at 11:24 AM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I found this article interesting because I have often thought of a lot of self care as just more work and my friends or family don't understand that. They've asked me why I don't just join X club or do Y sport and I'm always like, I don't want or need more commitments on my time. It's hard to find a way to relax sometimes that doesn't just feel like more work. I often feel that my relaxation time is really just a reboot to get me through work again.

I feel similar. I have all these things I am interested in that I feel would fall under the umbrella of self-care, but most days I am too pooped after I get home from work to do them. (Cue the part of my brain that admonishes me for wanting to be more creative in my spare time but not willing to put in the effort.) If I'm honest, real and true self-care is sitting on the couch to listen to classical music and read undisturbed for more than an hour. Just a brief respite where I don't have to think or care about work, or what needs doing around the house, or anything other my immediate wants, really.
posted by Kitteh at 11:26 AM on August 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


"8 hours for what we will " ahahaha ha. Not that I don't love having a house and kids but...
posted by warriorqueen at 11:31 AM on August 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


Man, I've been searching for a clear way to articulate this since, in the summer of 1999, I attended a talk put on by a start up company about work life balance (I can't remember in 1999 whether the term start up was in use or not, but that's what it was). They were showcasing all of the fabulous things they did for their employees--a gaming system in the workplace, ping pong tables, flexibility to choose working hours--and all of those things seemed neat, except it also felt clear to me that none of them were meant to benefit the workers except to the extent that it made them more able to sustain longer and harder working hours.

And there is something to this that's not wholly unhealthy. Efforts our employers make to help us avoid burnout are good, right? But what struck me at the time was how this was somehow being represented as good for the worker, when really it seemed obvious to me that this was predominantly for the benefit of the company.

I would have preferred a more honest discussion that accounted for the reality that it is expensive and disruptive for employees to burn out, and there are things that the company can do to mitigate these effects that also can be kind of enjoyable for the employees. It's win/win in that sense, only that the lion's share of the win accrues to the employer.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:34 AM on August 12, 2015 [20 favorites]


What made me snap was an article linked on Twitter about people listening to audiobooks at 2x

I did this by accident at the gym for several chapters of Anna Karenina, read by a 60s BBC posho. Hell of a workout.
posted by colie at 11:39 AM on August 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


interviewprotip never ask about work life balance
how's the family?
posted by mrdaneri at 11:40 AM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I found this article interesting because I have often thought of a lot of self care as just more work and my friends or family don't understand that. They've asked me why I don't just join X club or do Y sport and I'm always like, I don't want or need more commitments on my time. It's hard to find a way to relax sometimes that doesn't just feel like more work. I often feel that my relaxation time is really just a reboot to get me through work again.

This this this this this. I frequently struggle with trying to figure out how to engage in self care without putting more pressure on myself and then getting frustrated because oh my god I'm not even able to relax right aaaaaauugrghhh. Or going "Shit, I'm kind of lonely and bored; I should do a $THING socially!" and then I wind up getting Involved and I develop more responsibilities and it becomes one more form of work on my plate. It's a really bad habit but it's hard for me to figure out how to circumvent it to leave room for actual self care.

The article's point about this falling heavily on young women also made me laugh a bit painfully in self-recognition... since I spent this morning ranting with a female coworker about how our contributions to our workplace aren't given nearly as much slack or praise as the contributions that our male coworkers make. Ha. Ha. In a world that devalues even your work and the dividends from that work, how on earth are you supposed to convince yourself that your self, completely divorced from your impact on other people, has value?
posted by sciatrix at 11:45 AM on August 12, 2015 [38 favorites]


But what struck me at the time was how this was somehow being represented as good for the worker, when really it seemed obvious to me that this was predominantly for the benefit of the company.

Yeah, this is a thing in tech circles. For example, Google gets a lot of good press over the fact that it has all sorts of employee amenities like free food, laundry, etc. And look, those sound nice, but let's not kid ourselves: Google's primary goal in providing these is to make their expectations of likely unreasonable work hours slightly less quick to burn you out. Having to leave to eat (or not eating, because of the work schedule), having to go drop off / pick up laundry, etc, eats into time you could be working.

So, too, is it when you see ping-pong tables or whatnot in the break room / kitchen. Seems like a nice gesture, but whenever I see that really highlighted, my assumption is that this is not-so-subtle code for "... so, we're expecting 60-80 hour work weeks as a usual thing".
posted by tocts at 11:45 AM on August 12, 2015 [22 favorites]


tocts So, too, is it when you see ping-pong tables or whatnot in the break room / kitchen. Seems like a nice gesture, but whenever I see that really highlighted, my assumption is that this is not-so-subtle code for "... so, we're expecting 60-80 hour work weeks as a usual thing".

It's the same with "unlimited" vacation and sick time. There's no limit, because you're expected to never use it. I'm reminded of an article about the death of the Adult Snow Day with always-on connectivity to work, something I've experienced myself in my previous job with a startup and my current job in online publishing.
posted by SansPoint at 11:49 AM on August 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


Self-care, to be legitimate, has to be done in the interest of reminding yourself that despite the demands that you be a device to perform tasks that benefit your employers, you are in fact a person, not a thing, and that you are valuable beyond the exchange value of the things that you make and beyond your capacity to diligently carry out commands from social superiors. Self-care performed as a means to make yourself a better tool for use by others is by definition not self-care; you're just sharpening someone else's knife for them.

This is why the best self-care — possibly the only genuine self-care available to us — involves doing things that subtly sabotage your employer's interests, without that sabotage being traceable back to you.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:51 AM on August 12, 2015 [49 favorites]


You Can't Tip a Buick This is why the best self-care, and perhaps, given our current dire situation, the only possible legitimate self-care involves doing things that subtly sabotage your employer's interests, without that sabotage being traceable back to you.


"Take stuff from work.
It's the best way to feel better about your job.
Never buy pens or pencils or paper.
Take 'em from work.
Rubber bands, paper clips, memo pads, folders-take 'em from work.
It's the best way to feel better about your low pay and appalling working conditions."

posted by SansPoint at 11:53 AM on August 12, 2015 [12 favorites]


It's like when your employer adds an "employee assistance program" that is so transparently concocted to maximize productivity. Concern is not appreciated when it comes from an empty place. This life and culture we've carved out is bleak. We stay busy to forget.
posted by aydeejones at 11:53 AM on August 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


Personally if I can't get a hug unprompted each day then life is a desolate hellscape to be endured. My broken self care models revolve around hugging myself on the inside in all the wrong ways. Sigh
posted by aydeejones at 11:54 AM on August 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


We also stay busy to ensure that the fabulously wealthy who also have desolate souls can at least appreciate the finer things in life. So that too.
posted by aydeejones at 11:56 AM on August 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


8 hours for what we will

It sounds good, but even setting aside the emotional and other unpaid labor described in Jaffe's article, we've also structured a society in which most workers commute to work and spend an average of 25.4 minutes on a one-way trip, so about an hour comes off the "what you will" right away, and much much more for some people - my longest commute was 1:05, just one way. We are also not paid for the time we spend getting dressed and grooming for work and packing lunches and bags and scraping snow off the car or what have you, so we're probably down to about 6 hours once that gets shaved off. Then, too, there are all the arrangements we must make because we will be away from home for a good 9 hours - child care, pet care, juggling appointments around a work schedule - and the shopping, dry-cleaning and meal-prepping we have to do because we need to be ready for work. "What you will" ends up being a lot less than eight hours, even if you don't start factoring in the helping work many of us do for others to help them get ready for the day, live in a clean house, eat, do homework, etc. Finally, I don't know about you, but there's an increasing unstated expectation of doing work at home. Like, I just got a 40 page packet of proofing and editing last night at 5 PM, due today at 3 PM. When I protested that I had needed the packet earlier because I was in solid meetings 9 to 3 and would be unable to review the packet during the meetings, it was kind of a blank shrug that basically said : Just do it - stay up late - get up early - I don't care when - do it on your own time, it's not my problem - just do it.
posted by Miko at 11:56 AM on August 12, 2015 [74 favorites]


In a world that devalues even your work and the dividends from that work, how on earth are you supposed to convince yourself that your self, completely divorced from your impact on other people, has value?

I think this is a really, really important point. Nothing destroyed my self-esteem so thoroughly as being aware that nothing I did could change the world around me. Being able to effect real and lasting change in the world has done wonders for my self-esteem - I'm even able to sustain being angry when someone insults my contribution! That would have never happened five years ago.

I also am struck by how this plays out for other disadvantaged people. Think of the young black girl who objects to something racist in school and is not only punished for it, but the police are called. Not only are her contributions rendered completely invisible - but she is literally and harshly punished for trying to do anything. One of the major effects of authoritarian societies is to crush out any sort of dissent and to cast dissent as fundamentally evil or wrong, and that's a pattern I see repeated between a disturbingly high number of places, from families to courts to the stories we tell ourselves and each other over and over again.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:57 AM on August 12, 2015 [31 favorites]


It also changes over one's life - you can do all sorts of stuff early on, putting in stupid hours because what you're doing in work seems really important. And sometimes it is. But as you go through, you discover that 'really important' is actually not dependent on what people say it is, and you're quite liable to find out that the reasons you're given, or you intuit, for doing the crazy stuff aren't actually true. That all-stops-out project you worked on for six months? Actually, it's been cancelled.

Meanwhile, the stuff you do for yourself - well, you realise that time on earth is limited, and perhaps given that you can't read a book if you're working over the weekend and then that book will never get read, you start to look at what it is you're selling in return for what you're given in a rather different light.

Just so much of what gets done in the body corporate is not worth doing. It's wasted work. Learning what that is and not doing it is a big part of self-care, for me at least, and it damages me greatly if I have to do it.

A working environment that recognised that and put a priority on that above 'productivity', would be a good working environment. A culture, a better one.
posted by Devonian at 11:59 AM on August 12, 2015 [25 favorites]


One of the most baffling responses to the recent spate of articles about (un)paid family leave and other sick/vacation/life time away from work is "Whatever happened to taking pride in your work? Folks today are awfully preoccupied with vacation time!"

I don't know what to do with that. Some people believe that working hard, "pride in your work"--regardless, apparently, of whether it's teaching children, healing the sick, or a made-up job--is the most important virtue. Above everything else. Often, these people (full disclosure: my conservative extended family) are Bible-thumping Christians. I can't comprehend this line of thinking, this total dismissal of life itself.
posted by witchen at 12:02 PM on August 12, 2015 [13 favorites]


witchen: Ah, the "good" ol' Protestant work ethic! Work hard now, because you'll get to relax in Heaven!

Fuck that shit. Fuck that shit in it's ear.
posted by SansPoint at 12:04 PM on August 12, 2015 [25 favorites]


Yeah it's profoundly sad that so much of what it means to be an American is rooted in deterministic hateful Calvinism. Fuck that. It's so capitalist friendly. You don't have to believe that people are somehow justifying the station in heaven they already received by working themselves to death in order to exploit it. In fact it makes no fucking sense at all. Nothing in Calvinism really does. But it runs this shit.
posted by aydeejones at 12:08 PM on August 12, 2015 [13 favorites]


Makes me nostalgic for the mid-20th-century fear that by this year in American history, the central social problem would be that we'd have so much leisure time, what with our 20-hour-workweeks, that suicide levels would spike due to people feeling bored and purposeless. Funny that I don't feel like patting America on the back for avoiding that horrible outcome. . .
posted by DrMew at 12:08 PM on August 12, 2015 [16 favorites]


And definitely turn those swords into ploughshares lest you try to take back what you created
posted by aydeejones at 12:09 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I used to think that Marxist arguments about false consciousness that explain our collective submissiveness by arguing that we've been duped into slitting our own throats for the owning class's benefit were unsophisticated and insulting. Over the course of the last few years, though, I've come around.

We're working so much that we don't have any time or brainpower to enjoy even those aspects of the benefits of civilization that we have access to. Our free time is entirely devoted to recovering from our work time; we don't enjoy the things we consume, we simply use them to make us fit for work the next day.

Let's all move into tents under bridges and live off of what we pull out of garbage cans and dumpsters. It's not great, but it beats work.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:12 PM on August 12, 2015 [31 favorites]


While I understand things are rough in the tech sector, expecting 60-80 hour weeks, etc. Things aren't much better in the not-for-profit sector where, in order to prove your dedication to the cause, you are expected to work enormous amounts of overtime and take a low salary. Leisure is for those who aren't saving the world.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:20 PM on August 12, 2015 [22 favorites]


Not to mention, if we ever got a ping-pong table, it would be used to make 6 more cubicles where we could fit an increasing number of underpaid or unpaid interns and volunteers. Forget food. No one has money in their grant for that.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:30 PM on August 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


"8 hours for what we will " ahahaha ha. Not that I don't love having a house and kids but...

Ah yes, for those of us in that situation it's "8 hours for what wee will".
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:43 PM on August 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: hugging myself on the inside in all the wrong ways
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:50 PM on August 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


Ah, the old and elusive trick to finding "balance." Whenever anyone talks to me about balance, I chuckle, and thank God I have been loosely indoctrinated in some Buddhist teachings regarding the constant state of Flux everything (especially life) is in, for those many times I cry out in despair about some perfect period of balance (usually 2-3 days) of work, family, life, other things, I was able to enjoy.

So, I try to remain fluid and fallable. There are times where it seems like nothing but work and chores... Like right now. I am currently starting month #2 of 7 day work weeks, with a sick and pregnant wife and two small children at home, among other responsibilities. I try to cram in some respite time at night or during work (like now), but as of late, this has amounted to about an hour or so a day, with nearly every other minute filled with cleaning, working, commuting, changing diapers, and trying to engage the children.

I find joy in some of those things, none in others, but I know that this shit is all temporary, and it is my job to do whatever I can to help out. It makes those occasional lazy days I strive for much more rewarding and gratitude inducing.

I am fallable, though, and I need to accept that as well. I need to process my frustration with arriving home to a massively unkempt house the day after I spent the night cleaning, hopefully without lashing out at my wife. She's fallable, I am fallable, and I elected to be the working parent of my own free will.

For me, indulging in self can be a slippery slope, lined with self-pity, procrastination, and resentment at every curve. So I resolutely turn my thoughts to others, know my day will come, and try to find personal joys, however small, in all that I am tasked to do, and pray to be relieved of any thoughts of martyrdom if and when they come. I do my best, but know I will fail as often as I succeed, and cut myself the slack I need to continue on.

I am my own worst enemy,
posted by Debaser626 at 12:53 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Let's all move into tents under bridges and live off of what we pull out of garbage cans and dumpsters. It's not great, but it beats work.

That's where real philosophers are found anyways.
posted by polymodus at 12:54 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Leisure is for those who aren't saving the world.

After I left my job in non-profits and vowed to not work in non-profits again because of exactly what you describe, I found it super refreshing to work in a small business. Everything about it was up-front honest: my boss takes home ten (or howevermuch) times as much as I do because it's his company. He owns the joint and I work for him and my salary is mine and the profit is his unless at some point in the future I get cut in.

Working at the non-profit -- a specialized branch of a very, very large non-profit whose name you know -- we had to Make Sacrifices for the Mission by never getting raises and working awful hours and so on. But at the end of the day, the bumbling VP in charge of the thing made ten times as much as I did and didn't seem to sacrifice nearly as much for the Grand Vision of a better world we were supposed to be building. Or whatever. Which stung extra-hard and definitely soured me on the idea of working in that sector again.
posted by griphus at 12:56 PM on August 12, 2015 [26 favorites]


That's where real philosophers are found anyways.

Yeah, they've all moved into tents because it's just so hard to find affordable rent on giant wine urns these days.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:57 PM on August 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


The average rent for a giant wine urn is $1200 a month in SF but to be fair that includes a lot of pretty desirable areas -- you can find an urn in the Outer Richmond for only around $850.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:18 PM on August 12, 2015 [14 favorites]


It's like when your employer adds an "employee assistance program" that is so transparently concocted to maximize productivity.

Reminds me of the program at my Fiancée's workplace where they will pay for you to see a councilor / psychologist to deal with stress but it's explicitly spelled out that you can't talk about stress caused by work. Which, of course, makes the program effectively worthless for her and makes the whole thing sound like it would involve some kind of compromise in doctor patient confidentiality or something.
posted by metaphorever at 1:20 PM on August 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


Leisure is for those who aren't saving the world.

I recently was lucky enough to be able to change jobs from non-profit to state government.

Literally the first thing my boss said on my first day at work was: you should be out of the office at 4:45. We want you to have a life. She also said something on the lines of "I know you come from a non-profit. Don't skip lunch, don't feel guilty if you aren't 100% productive all the time."

I felt like crying when she said these beautiful things to me.

I have been working here for a month and I love it. There is no duty to overwork if you have plans to take time off soon, no silent guilt trip if you dare to stop for lunch. People have signs they hang on their cubicles when they are on a break and nobody interrupts them! Nobody expects me to be a martyr and give them my time for free to prove that I care about the program.

Not to mention that I am still getting tons of training and my duties and expectations have been very well explained to me. Everyone in my office has been working here for at least 10 years. More than half of the employees in my division have worked here for at least 20 and some even 40.

I feel so lucky and I really wish this were the standard for everyone. Even after a month I feel way more loyal to an employer that truly cares about me than I ever felt to my previous employer, because my previous employer was taking advantage of me and paid me half of what I am making now. It makes me so sad to remember that my friends are still making 25K a year and working 60 hour weeks.
posted by Tarumba at 1:22 PM on August 12, 2015 [45 favorites]


...so much of what it means to be an American is rooted in deterministic hateful Calvinism
x1000

or as amorphatist put it

"It's fundamentally a race to the bottom to out-compete colleagues (whether men or women) for a limited number of high-pay, high-status positions that afford the luxury for one to publicly ruminate on how one's inside-straight draw came good on the river, and putting that down to Correct Approach To Life rather than the luck of the draw."

What's a good label for someone who attributes their success "to Correct Approach To Life rather than the luck of the draw?" Because there seem to be a lot of them about.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:26 PM on August 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


The average rent for a giant wine urn is $1200 a month in SF but to be fair that includes a lot of pretty desirable areas -- you can find an urn in the Outer Richmond for only around $850.

These figures are out of date, I think. I checked on Philosophr the other day and the cheapest urn I could find anywhere in the city was $1100, and that was just for an efficiency amphora. Even in Oakland, any reasonably sized pithos will set you back four figures a month.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:26 PM on August 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


What's a good label for someone who attributes their success "to Correct Approach To Life rather than the luck of the draw?"

Fuckface.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:28 PM on August 12, 2015 [27 favorites]


What's a good label for someone who attributes their success "to Correct Approach To Life rather than the luck of the draw?"

Born on third and thinks they hit a triple.
posted by clavicle at 1:29 PM on August 12, 2015 [30 favorites]


Google gets a lot of good press over the fact that it has all sorts of employee amenities like free food, laundry, etc. And look, those sound nice, but let's not kid ourselves: Google's primary goal in providing these is to make their expectations of likely unreasonable work hours slightly less quick to burn you out. Having to leave to eat (or not eating, because of the work schedule), having to go drop off / pick up laundry, etc, eats into time you could be working.

As my dad says, "That's not a benefit; it's a bribe."
posted by the_blizz at 1:31 PM on August 12, 2015 [20 favorites]


I think this is up there with the pressure to have "meaningful" vacations, in which case, they're just another form of work. My idea of vacation is: go somewhere, have few to no obligations, nap a fair amount, maybe see some sights/eat some good food. But only if I feel like it. Sleep as much as I like.

But man, people will look at you strange if your story of your vacation is not jam-packed full of excitement/drama.

We're going up to Taos in a few weeks. I have no plans whatsoever. Gonna get there, look around, maybe do something if it sounds good. There will be naps. I can't wait.
posted by emjaybee at 1:45 PM on August 12, 2015 [21 favorites]


Working at the non-profit -- a specialized branch of a very, very large non-profit whose name you know -- we had to Make Sacrifices for the Mission by never getting raises and working awful hours and so on.

I have to say, that's one thing I love about the non-profit I work for. When massive budget cuts slashed our resources, everyone across the board (including the CEO) took the same percentage pay cut. We're expected to use our vacation. There's an emphasis on taking care of each other at my office. We laugh a lot. I seriously lucked out.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:55 PM on August 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


emjaybee I'm taking five days off from work starting tomorrow... and I'm plannign to teach myself JavaScript during it. Because I want to. But I wouldn't be opposed to a trip to Taos with no plans at all, too. There's room for both.

Enjoy the vacation!
posted by SansPoint at 1:55 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I could not BELIEVE it when I told my manager I had to travel for a few days and she just said, have fun! I didn't have to figure out how I was going to get enough internet in the middle of a forest to call into a meeting; I didn't have to plot out times to huddle in the back of a McDonalds next to the highway, frantically churning through manuscript; I didn't have to find a way of stacking up ridiculous amounts of work in advance to stay on schedule.

I just got to take 4 days --4 whole days!-- to not do work.

That hasn't happened in 10 YEARS.

I don't know if I can go back!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:13 PM on August 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


how on earth are you supposed to convince yourself that your self, completely divorced from your impact on other people, has value?

Interestingly, for those who wonder how religions entice people to participate, this is one of the rewards. Some other metric for the value of your existence that doesn't depend (at least entirely) on your works, but simply your inherent value.

Makes me nostalgic for the mid-20th-century fear that by this year in American history, the central social problem would be that we'd have so much leisure time, what with our 20-hour-workweeks, that suicide levels would spike due to people feeling bored and purposeless. Funny that I don't feel like patting America on the back for avoiding that horrible outcome. . .

Oddly enough, I think that did come true, we just did a really shitty job of distributing the work. Instead of all of us having 20 hour work weeks and needing to figure out how to fill our time, we've stripped work away from millions of unemployed people, underemployed millions more while sucking all dignity from the jobs they are doing, and sacked the bulk of the paid labor on people struggling to hold on to, or grab, a position anywhere within the middle class. All because we can't stomach socialism. Our society is certainly prosperous enough to have managed this differently, but we didn't.

I'm also really concerned about the future of work. We've vanished many jobs right out of existence, and will vanish many more as even service work becomes more automated, and yet we have no real plan for what we're going to do when unemployment is even more commonly the norm. We're still trying to deliver all life's sustaining needs (wages for housing, higher education and retirement, healthcare) through employment, but we're going to have less and less of it.
posted by Miko at 2:45 PM on August 12, 2015 [38 favorites]


Mefi mascot Dilbert's Scott Adams made the cogent point in his book 'The Joy of Work' that any time you manage to work fewer hours for the same amount of money (by slacking off, writing your novel, doing something you want to do) you have given yourself a stealth raise.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:29 PM on August 12, 2015 [20 favorites]


aka passive, or nonviolent, resistance.
posted by Miko at 3:36 PM on August 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


child care, pet care, juggling appointments around a work schedule - and the shopping, dry-cleaning and meal-prepping ... helping work many of us do for others to help them get ready for the day, live in a clean house, eat, do homework, etc.

Used to be called ''the rat race'. These are some of the time-eaters. Like magazines, we've subscribed to each of them. Some are essential, most are choices we made one at a time, like buying things on credit until our financial options are all gone. Surprise, regret, attention, action.

We can banish some of the time-eaters, manage the rest. Make only essential appointments, shop for essentials, allow more dirt, simplify meals, teach others to help themselves more, etc etc. The fact is that as consumers, our lives, our vitality, our time is also being consumed. If our lives are more of a cage than a park, step one is to become aware of that ... and show ourselves more compassion.

There are many kinds of obesity.
posted by Twang at 3:53 PM on August 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


I see your passive resistance and raise you malicious compliance
posted by griphus at 3:57 PM on August 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


griphus My girlfriend has a good story about malicious compliance.

A garbageman, injured and put on desk duty, answered every call into the garage with the exact, deliberate recitation of the standard NYC Department of Sanitation telephone greeting. People actually hung up on him because they thought he was a recording. Not that he was complaining.
posted by SansPoint at 5:24 PM on August 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


I've heard "self-care" used most often within protest movements, to connote trying to make sure you have some time away from upsetting news, social media, and the urge to struggle 24/7. This is a beautiful poem on the subject - "If You Are Over Staying Woke" by Morgan Parker.
posted by sallybrown at 5:51 PM on August 12, 2015 [15 favorites]


Nothing destroyed my self-esteem so thoroughly as being aware that nothing I did could change the world around me.

Yup, there now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:44 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


We talk about this a ton in my field, and I didn't understand why I'm school until I started working for my boss.

She works 7 day work weeks, 12 hours each day, giving massages. I understand why she finds it rewarding to do - I find great joy in helping others with my hands too, but there's no way humanly possible I could do that the amount she does because I value taking care of myself too much.

I do it for the joy of doing it - making hegelkulture mounds in the backyard, chigong, having powerful and intimate conversations, it doesn't matter as long as that time is truly mine.

She cannot see the value it has because those things don't make me money. It is the saddest existence I could witness in a colleague.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 8:06 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


At work now, and just got one of those "out of the office with limited access to email" messages people are now leaving when they go on vacation. These definitely have a desperate and defensive tone - like, "I know you will email anyway while I am on vacation so I want to let you know I will be physically unable to respond." This is what we've come to.

I'm going to stop appending that to my vacation messages, because it implies that it would otherwise be all right to pester me. I'm away on vacation, full stop.
posted by Miko at 7:02 AM on August 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I used to have a coworker whose out of office autoresponse flat out said that he was out of the office from X date to Y date and would be deleting the contents of his inbox upon his return. I never had the guts to try that.
posted by palomar at 9:32 AM on August 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


I used to have a coworker whose out of office autoresponse flat out said that he was out of the office from X date to Y date and would be deleting the contents of his inbox upon his return. I never had the guts to try that.
...daaamn. That's hard-core.
posted by XtinaS at 9:45 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


would be deleting the contents of his inbox upon his return

Respect.
posted by Miko at 12:33 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lots of the faculty at my university do the full on "I am deleting every email received this month" thing in August. I am very jealous,.
posted by Stacey at 1:04 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think this is really wrapped up in the way that we think about the self as inherently valuable or meaningful. People are finally talking about work-life balance as a broader thing, but up until recently the work/family conversation talked about the (usually female) self as a resource. The question was just how to divide up your other-focused labor. Even now, a lot of the focus on self-care is about replenishing the self to continue to work for others. I find the emergency worker analogy somewhat useful - you can't help anyone else if you can help yourself - but only as a reminder or a last resort. There should be some way to talk about people as inherently worthwhile and good outside of their usefulness, though I'm not sure exactly how to do this.

(Re: the "born on third and thinks they hit a triple" folks, a friend of mine actually asks people in interviews whether they consider themselves lucky, and finds it really interesting to hear how they tell the narrative of their success.)
posted by earth by april at 6:35 PM on August 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


There should be some way to talk about people as inherently worthwhile and good outside of their usefulness, though I'm not sure exactly how to do this.

Yeah, the framework I have for this is religious which has some obvious limitations.
posted by clavicle at 8:43 AM on August 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Me too. It is one of the things I value most about having a religion: a human-worth context totally outside of commerce that renders its determinations pretty irrelevant.
posted by Miko at 4:59 PM on August 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


a human-worth context totally outside of commerce that renders its determinations pretty irrelevant.

I've often seen definitions of "spirituality" as variations on "something bigger than yourself," but I like bringing in that larger (but not large enough) context better -- something bigger than any capitalist construct.

And now I'm wondering if that's exactly why socialist countries tend to have lower numbers of religious people.
posted by jaguar at 7:58 PM on August 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


They tend to also have fewer traditions of religious revivalism even pre-Socialism, so I don't know. But of course, not having to continually justify yourself in terms of profit-earning potential would certainly help cultivate a humanistic perspective.
posted by Miko at 8:02 PM on August 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


My "vacation" autoresponse always says "owing to the volume of email I receive, please assume I have not read your message" and tells people who to contact while I'm gone. And I don't check work email when I'm on leave, or after hours. If it's an emergency, people will ring, and it had better be an emergency.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:04 AM on August 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


"I know you will email anyway while I am on vacation so I want to let you know I will be physically unable to respond." This is what we've come to."

I have to e-mail some people while they are on vacation because they are the only contact info I have for (insert thing here). I don't like it either, but I am pretty much like "get to it whenever, don't care, no rush" about it, though.

I bet my boss would love to nuke her email box because she gets like 1000 e-mails every time she is out sick, but I think she'd get killed if she tried it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:54 PM on August 15, 2015


I get more than 150 e-mails a day, so when I go on vacation, it ruins the next few days of work after I get back. I really wish people didn't use it like a work-ticket system.
posted by Miko at 7:39 PM on August 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am specifically exploring getting back into religious practice because I want my beliefs and practice around forgiveness, the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and unconditional love to be more resilient.
posted by brainwane at 9:34 AM on August 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


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