The Work of Not Working

This week has been really busy for me.

I researched dog kennels for hours, contemplated what I was looking for in a dog kennel for hours, mulled through my options, made appointments with sales reps, talked with those sales reps and then bought two dog kennels. Analyst skills: check.

With the super nice weather this week in Saint Louis, I have been meeting my goal of walking three miles (with pups) each day.

Dog training skills: check.

Lent started up as mentioned in my post from Wednesday, so there has been a renewal of spiritual practice which has opened my mind to understand why some of my creative projects were stalled out… they needed a foundational practice.

This feels like an accomplishment similar to identifying the dog kennels. Analyst / Product Development skills: check.

PS – dog kennels are confusing and expensive. I ended up going with a specific brand, saving about a thousand dollars compared to the others.


Accounting Department skills: check. (Oh, I also completed our family’s February budget review… add Excel skills: check)

All of our kids are at the other parents’ this week so we have had a bit of a honeymoon week. I rose to the challenge of using up everything in our fridge and freezer and stumbled upon the creation of a carrot bisque recipe. Netflix cooking challenge champion skills: check.

It was about 4 in the afternoon, I had roasted carrots and aromatics sweating in the pot. The sun was SO pretty and I had the window open.

I didn’t cook with music as the silence in the house was golden (see aforementioned note about kids not being here). After a taste test of the roasted carrot soup left me with a sliver of rosemary on my tongue, I thought: this should be smooth. This should be a bisque.

Without multi tasking on a conference call, without thinking about how much time I had, without any tie to any thing, I pulled out a sieve and started the slow process of one ladle of soup at a time… pushing through the sieve… watching with satisfaction (again, satisfaction akin to the not spending $1,500 on dog crates) as the soup pooled up in the receiving bowl.

So simple. So creative. So strategic.

I have thought a lot this week about life as a creative and desiring progress and accomplishment to be redefined in my mind.

I notice when friends or fellow writers call me to rattle their projects around. I notice when friends reach out for perspective or just to chat.

I proofread a friend’s work, for pete’s sake. I am working all the time. Professional friend and pro bono life analyst.

The work of not working occurs when I see what I am doing or how I am doing something because I am “not working” and consider whether or not what I am enjoying doing or how I am enjoying doing it should somehow be what I do for work. Following?

Having been a part of 2020’s “Great Resignation” as I “retired from corporate life” has given me a freedom that seems to be wide open space for thoughts of “what do I do with this thing I like doing” or some kind of jolt to ascribe value or extend offering to even the simplest joys. I was a half step away from ordering jar labels and whipping up another batch of carrot bisque for my family members in town.

I am starting to want this time back, if that makes sense. I want that thinking to subside and I want to emerge different. In too many ways, that thinking is similar to how I saw everything I did at Enterprise. How do I get the right people to notice the skill and hire it, promote it, pay it.

What does it look like to just exist without wondering what something is or should be?

What does it feel like to simple operate without marketing?

Part of my Lenten practice has been to resurrect (pun slightly intended) my study of Yoga Sutra. It is not lost on me that the first couple of days on chapter one (the portion of contemplation) have brought the strong reminder of impressions of the mind as distractions.

I dog eared pages from my practice last night to investigate further today… to journal or reflect or whatever I am going to do to understand a bit more about why they got the precious dog ear fold. I know – for the most part – they got the fold because they were helping me remember that all of this work thinking, the pattern of needing to work, is likely the obstacle to the unfolding of the next chapter of my creative life.

Fascinating. Anybody else out there not working and thinking all the time about work? Is this an American thing???

For those that know me … I think this is the next layer of saran wrap to remove.

Ok… now on to it… erin


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s