does doing less make life more?

January 10, 2014

introspection

Maybe it’s one of those phrases in the zeitgeist, like “It is what it is,” because I’ve been hearing it everywhere: “What, like she’s eating bonbons all day?” It was the response of a Couples Therapist when my husband complained that I didn’t do anything all day. “What, is she in bed eating bonbons all day?” We never returned to that therapist.

Let’s pretend that I get out of bed every now and again. Put on a coat and leave the house in some type of slipper. I’d start the engine of my car and driveā€¦ to where exactly? How shall I purchase said bonbons? Mochi, sure (though I find green tea flavored desserts a total waste of sugar). Bonbons are for drive-in movies, behind the opaque curtain of time between now and the 1950s. But thanks for coming to my defense, dear therapist. How about this as a defense: doing nothing is good for you.

Let kids get bored, collect leaves, make their own fun

OVER SCHEDULED KIDS
There isn’t just “something to be said for doing nothing,” there’s everything to say about it. Read any article about over scheduled children, how these layered activities and jam-packed days actually do a disservice to a child. What most kids need is a good healthy dose of boredom, time to reflect and be creative. Same goes for you. Let the leaves fall where they may.

I’M SO SWAMPED: A CASE OF THE BUSY
We jam our days with to-do’s and plans because we see filling them as adding value to our lives, investments in ourselves, and the only time we really stop is, if we’re lucky, for dinner as a family, over a meal with friends, but even that is busy time, scheduled. We finally unwind in front of the TV where the last thing we do is reflect or create or figure out who we want to be in the world.

DOES DOING LESS MAKE LIFE MORE?
Next come the New Year resolutions to be more productive, to exercise more, to cook more dinners at home, and with these resolutions come a frenzy of to-do lists (from downloading new workout music, to grocery lists, and printing recipes). Does anyone ever resolve to do less?

FROM WHERE I STAND
I feel, quite honestly, that in the past year I’ve done less, a lot less, and I don’t feel any more reflective or self-aware. I have hours of quiet alone time and reflection, and if I realize anything, I zero in on fear. I believe a lot of my essential unscheduled time, where I hope the universe will send me secret thoughts and epiphanies, is actually fear masquerading as meditation. There are so many things I haven’t tried lately. Risks I haven’t taken. And I can’t tell if it’s fear or laziness. I have a feeling that it’s a cocktail of the two.

But you know what else? In all this quiet, I’ve realized that, at least. And something else. I think missing the He Hormone (Testosterone) for the past year has seriously killed any sense of ambition I used to have. Lack of drive, isn’t just sex. It’s life drive. The desire to make something of your day, never mind life. The gas behind doing and moving and desire and WANT. I haven’t wanted anything, truly deeply wanted anything. I want to find my want again. And I have a suspicion that it wants to be found, and the method that’s going to reveal it, I’m sad to say, is writing daily. Sad to say it because it’s work. No short cut to it. I have to write my way through it, I think. Writing in to-do lists, and half-realized ideas, in half blog posts with no point. Just getting it out and throat clearing again. It’s happening, starting now.

Now is where I should click ‘Publish’ and walk away, throat cleared, but I can’t help but wonder, what’s the answer to the question? Does doing less make life more? I feel like it does but it doesn’t and I wish I had the answer, that the wisdom and proof could present itself.

12 Responses to “does doing less make life more?”

  1. Wendy Says:

    Long time reader and fan! I think it would help us (readers) to understand your trajectory. Initially you were Page Six It Girl, TV pilots, author book tour, TV personality with a splash of lifestyle expert. What are the next steps in your career? Are those thing still simmering and just don’t interest you? Also, you might want to check out the Cupcakes and Cashmere blog – she has written a lot about how to stay inspired and active online/in life. Good luck, rooting for you!

    Reply

    • Stephanie Klein Says:

      I still have a manager and agents representing me, still have magazine editors asking me to work on pieces, still have people coming to me asking me for content, still have another book to write. And yet, I haven’t moved on anything. I haven’t felt the deep desire within, that sense of ambition, wanting to accomplish. Instead, I’ve focused on fattening up new friendships, getting into a good flow of exercise and trying to get dinners worked out, and helping with homework and setting up art projects and scheduling play dates. I’ve been deeply invested in the lives of these kids, on my health, using makeup as a creative outlet. I don’t know how to stay inspired, when the drive isn’t there, when that deep NEED to share a story, something that matters to you deeply, isn’t in you. I don’t have anything to follow the “I wish” statement. You write books, you write a tv pilot, you have the opportunity to write a screenplay, you get tangled up and stall. You have another book, all the material mostly written, but you don’t follow through on it because you keep questioning what the deeper lesson is, why must this book be published? How will it help others? What are the lessons? What’s the story you want to tell? And when the answer is “I wish I knew” I at least have an answer to “I wish…” Does this make sense?

      Reply

      • SusanC Says:

        It makes total sense. What it sounds like is that your life is full. Full of kids, full of fattening up friendships, full of self-improvement (without going overboard). I think it’s just about the perspective you take when you’re looking at things. You’re ambitious, but those ambitions aren’t about career right now. They’re about growing little beings into great people. And nurturing the relationship you have with them. It’s hard because we’re told as women that we need to strive (or nicely, Lean In) for these worldly aspirations, when sometimes we just want to dig into our homes and focus there. But, for people that have once had a pretty big career trajectory, it’s a big change to look at what you have filling your days now. It’s hard not to fear. And wonder “It this enough?”.

        Reply

  2. Jocelyn Says:

    The therapist was defending you. She was questioning and calling out his accusation.

    Reply

    • Stephanie Klein Says:

      Of course she was, and she was right to, too. That’s not why we didn’t go back to her. She just wasn’t sharp enough to convince Phil that she would be helpful. We did find another therapist that really did help, despite how resisting Phil was. Her advice still helps me today. Thankful things are worlds better in my marriage now. Like, not even close.

      Reply

  3. 3 teens' mom Says:

    Glad to see you. I was just telling my beloved yesterday that I’m a much better, more interesting, more prolific writer when everything sucks. When things are burbling along, all happy and content, it is definitely a challenge to force myself to write.

    Looking back on years of writing, it is the times when life is ripping apart, drama abounds, exhaustion overwhelms, that my writing is worth reading. The semi-sweet day-to-day ponderings and maunderings of a sweet life aren’t nearly as interesting. Guess this is why there aren’t reality shows called ‘Life Going Along Smoothly’ or ‘Happiness is Being Drama-Free’.

    Sounds like you’re exactly where you should be – peacefully ambling along keeping the darlings happy and fulfilled, keeping yourself healthy and strong. I’d love to see more writing on your blog, but wouldn’t want you to have to endure drama to make it happen.

    Reply

  4. lisa Says:

    I read the Cupcakes and Cashmere blog and it’s wonderful BUT Emily so young. She is newly married and hasn’t had much of the life experiences we have had. I empathize with you Stephanie. There’s nothing wrong with stalling…bc it’s not stalling, it’s living. Don’t discount that. Kids take a lot out of us as do hormones and husbands…and life needs to ebb and flow else what do we really learn, how do we really grow? The point is not what you will “do” next but how you will “be” — and hopefully the answer is that you will be “happy” by continuing to surround yourself with those people and things you love. That is the truest achievement of all. I’m rooting for you.

    Reply

  5. Laurie Says:

    Sounds to me like depression. Are you on any medications?

    Reply

    • M. Says:

      Agreed. That’s what struck me when I read this. I’d be interested to hear how you’re taking care of your mental health. I understand that hormonal issues can be really debilitating, but for someone who was as active and professionally engaged as you to now be focused almost entirely on things like reorganizing kids’ playrooms and playing with makeup does make me think that you are struggling with what your purpose is, which quite understandably can cause depression.

      Reply

  6. Zezelia Says:

    As someone with hormone issues, I can relate to this. Hormones bring you up and drop you down, but you’re still you all the while, the knobs are just tweaked a little bit. Rest. Let it ride. Try not to be too hard on yourself. We’ll still be here whenever you decide to write. :)

    Reply

  7. Kimberly Says:

    As a long time reader, my favorite posts of yours have been about female friendships. Truth be told, in Straight Up and Dirty, I liked the sections about bonding with your girlfriends in the Hamptons better then the sections about dating. I find female friendships to be so interesting and sometimes so challenging. At the same time, sometimes I feel closer to my female friends then I do my husband and I often wonder why that is the case.

    Reply

  8. M. Says:

    One more thought. I really think you would find a lot of meaning in teaching. Maybe through an online course like mediabistro, maybe through a community college or something. Teach writing. It’ll be the best thing for your writing you could ever do – and talk about creating meaning in your life!

    Reply

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