nothing is something

 

After a few weeks of feeling my mental peace shaken (a bit of smurgging had resurfaced), I was feeling pretty insecure and low this weekend.

While I usually spent time with Mr. Lively instead of dealing with the negative self-talk head on, I found myself alone yesterday as Mr. Lively spent the day with his friend.

At first I thought it might be good for me to do some worry flashcards to get all my ego-y thoughts down on paper and systematically de-mystify them. But instead, on a whim, I ended up grabbing some books and a beach towel and sat on a beach chair on my apartment building’s roof-deck.

As I reclined and opened the book with the quiet white noise of the city around me and the branches swaying, I felt instantly more peaceful. I had no where to be, no one to talk to, nothing pressing to think about.

I started to re-read the second half of The Seven Habits (again), my mind quieted down. It rested. The sticky tangle of negative thoughts evaporated as I sat on that patio, away from my routine.

Eventually I did some meditation and prayer too. That’s when my mind really melted.

Though I like to think that I have a strong sense of balance in my life, I came to understand yesterday afternoon that just because I don’t work a million hours a week or check my email often doesn’t automatically mean that I’m really relaxed or balanced.

I need to make Doing Nothing a high priority for my well-being to truly flourish. For me, that doesn’t mean sitting and watching tv or even reading blogs. To me it now means going somewhere quiet and doing something quiet. 

I need to be still. 

I need to be still much more often than I am now.

So to make this intention a habit, I created a little Nothing Bag, to encourage me to go back on that patio multiple times a week.

Now all I need to do is grab that pre-packed bag from my closet,

and head down to the patio. No other prep required.

The wonderful thing about a Nothing Bag is that it can be used anywhere, anytime. No patio is needed, just a quiet space and the intention to be still.

 

This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. What a wonderful idea!! I am sooooo bad at sitting back and relaxing, and reading my new books I’m excited about. I love this idea and hope I can do it sometime this summer!

  2. What a wonderful idea!! I am sooooo bad at sitting back and relaxing, and reading my new books I’m excited about. I love this idea and hope I can do it sometime this summer!

  3. Love this post! I am also having tons of self doubts right now. I am knee-deep in the interviewing process for a teaching position for next year and I am dwelling and over analyzing every word I say during interviews. It’s exhausting! I love you idea of having a “nothing bag”. I think I might try this. 🙂

  4. Love this post! I am also having tons of self doubts right now. I am knee-deep in the interviewing process for a teaching position for next year and I am dwelling and over analyzing every word I say during interviews. It’s exhausting! I love you idea of having a “nothing bag”. I think I might try this. 🙂

  5. Kate

    Great post! I’ve been doing a little smurgging (love that word) myself lately. Thanks for the reminder and tip to take myself away for a little nothing time. I often listen to Eckhart Tolle when that negative chatter gets too loud, but I’m going to take a look at the seven habits x

  6. Kate

    Great post! I’ve been doing a little smurgging (love that word) myself lately. Thanks for the reminder and tip to take myself away for a little nothing time. I often listen to Eckhart Tolle when that negative chatter gets too loud, but I’m going to take a look at the seven habits x

  7. Great idea! Sometimes in the morning if I don’t feel like doing anything productive and feel the need to be still I’ll just climb back into bed with a book or settle in on the couch with a book just for 10 or 15 minutes and it makes all the difference in the world! And it feels like such a gift to myself.

    Lauren L.–you’ll find a teaching job that is just right for you. Remind yourself that you are an amazing teacher with so much to offer a school and students. As you prep for your interviews, I’m sure you’re thinking about why you are an awesome teacher and what makes you stand out. Convince yourself that those things are 100% true and you’ll convince the interviewers with NO problem! Keep your head up, walk tall, and know that you’ll find a perfect match!

  8. Great idea! Sometimes in the morning if I don’t feel like doing anything productive and feel the need to be still I’ll just climb back into bed with a book or settle in on the couch with a book just for 10 or 15 minutes and it makes all the difference in the world! And it feels like such a gift to myself.

    Lauren L.–you’ll find a teaching job that is just right for you. Remind yourself that you are an amazing teacher with so much to offer a school and students. As you prep for your interviews, I’m sure you’re thinking about why you are an awesome teacher and what makes you stand out. Convince yourself that those things are 100% true and you’ll convince the interviewers with NO problem! Keep your head up, walk tall, and know that you’ll find a perfect match!

  9. Great post Jess! And I love the idea of the “nothing bag.” My nothing bag this weekend consisted of detergent, fashion mags, and a pile of laundry. I find the laundry mat to be a place where the outside world doesn’t exist and there’s not much else you can do except sit and relax until the dryer buzzes. Oh and there’s powerful a/c there, which in this weather is pure luxury 😉

  10. Great post Jess! And I love the idea of the “nothing bag.” My nothing bag this weekend consisted of detergent, fashion mags, and a pile of laundry. I find the laundry mat to be a place where the outside world doesn’t exist and there’s not much else you can do except sit and relax until the dryer buzzes. Oh and there’s powerful a/c there, which in this weather is pure luxury 😉

  11. Lori

    Perfect idea Jess! I’m actually on vacation right now but have still been finding it hard to disconnect from my have-to-do’s and feeling guilty for taking time for myself. A nothing bag is a good reminder that doing nothing actually will help me to accomplish more (and that bag isn’t just for vacations!). Will have to pack that bag and head to the pool today!

  12. Clara

    Ha- did we have the same weekend??? On Saturday I had the first free day with literally no obligations in what felt like forever. I wanted to go to the beach. I was all set for Brandon and I to go, but Brandon said he wanted to stay home and catch up on some things since he’d been traveling so much. At first I was bummed, the thought of going to the beach all by myself seemed so sad! But I decided to just do it, that I would enjoy the sun once I got there. In the end, it was so wonderful to have the day to myself! I listened to a podcast on the subway on the way there, read on the beach, took naps when I felt like it- it was perfect. I came home refreshed and sun kissed and ready for dinner and drinks out together. I felt like my mind received a true break and the alone time was just what I needed.

  13. That’s such a lovely idea. What a great way to take care of yourself. I’d add a drink to it 🙂 Hope your mind is more calm this week.

  14. AdeOla

    A wonderful idea especially now when I am dealing with a lot of uncertainty and self doubt.

  15. mary

    I think you could benefit from eft therapy… it’s completely self-administered (it’s the ‘tapping therapy’, if you’ve heard of that). It really helps me re-focus my emotions when they start getting negative.
    Here’s a link, and you can watch videos on youtube that shows you how to do it:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotionally_focused_therapy

  16. mary

    I think you could benefit from eft therapy… it’s completely self-administered (it’s the ‘tapping therapy’, if you’ve heard of that). It really helps me re-focus my emotions when they start getting negative.
    Here’s a link, and you can watch videos on youtube that shows you how to do it:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotionally_focused_therapy

  17. Sarah

    Great idea, Jess! I’m going to schedule in some “Doing Nothing” time this week.

  18. Sarah

    Great idea, Jess! I’m going to schedule in some “Doing Nothing” time this week.

  19. rita

    i love this! and in fact, had a great time doing nothing on my rooftop this past saturday as well!

    i’m sure you’ve seen/heard/read tim kreider’s recent NYT article the busy trap: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/

    an amazing article and a must read, in my opinion, but your post reminded me of this passage:

    Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. “Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do,” wrote Thomas Pynchon…

    so, enjoy your nothing/idle time!

  20. anne

    What a great idea! And I’m wondering, how do you hang your bags like that? Are they S hooks hung over a closet rod? I need to do that with my totes!

  21. anne

    What a great idea! And I’m wondering, how do you hang your bags like that? Are they S hooks hung over a closet rod? I need to do that with my totes!

  22. Jess

    Anne, yep! They are s hooks from Ikea on my closet rod.

    Rita, thank you so much for the quote and article, I cant wait to read it!

  23. Jess

    Anne, yep! They are s hooks from Ikea on my closet rod.

    Rita, thank you so much for the quote and article, I cant wait to read it!

  24. Nix Tweed

    Loving this idea. I always feel great after I unplug and get away. My mind becomes alive and creative again 🙂

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