Give Yourself A Break. Not Planning IS Planning.
Recently, I read a tweet that said something along the lines of, "We're not working at home. We're living at work." Y'all, as someone who does work from home (I have for years, even before this pandemic hit), something about that really touched every part of my soul. Because even though I really like working from home, even though I'm an ambivert (which is basically an introvert that is assumed to be an extrovert, at times) and even though I 1000 percent enjoy my own company, I have to accept that something COVID-19 has done—and is continuing to do—is alter our social lives in ways where it seems like we just keep going…and going…and going. No movie breaks. No lunches with friends. No hanging out at other people's homes for a change of scenery. And so, since we're in the house—our house—so much, while oftentimes trying to figure out what to do to break up some of the monotony of our lives, we work. And when we're not working, we plan. And when we're not doing either, it's like for feel guilty for not doing both.
If that resonated with you on levels that you didn't even realize it would until you read it, let me just say that what I'm about to share, I wrote with you specifically in mind. With all that the pandemic has taken out of us, it is so important that you give yourself permission to take a break. I'm not talking about going to sleep or surfing the 'net before you turn in at night. I mean taking real bona fide breaks without any guilt, reservation or apology. And here's why I am fully at peace with recommending that you do so.
What Does It Mean to Plan?
Fail to plan, plan to fail. We've all heard that saying before. Let me tell it, it's a huge part of the reason why a lot of us are either totally overwhelmed or low-key workaholics. It's because society really has programmed us to think that if we're not acting like a human version of the Energizer bunny, we're somehow being irresponsible. That we're not making the absolute most of our time.
So, let's break out of that toxic way of thinking, shall we? By definition, a plan is "a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc." It's also "a specific project" and "a definite purpose".
We plan what we're going to wear to work. We plan how we're going to spend our time at the office. Then we plan what we're going to eat for dinner—only to get up and repeat this cycle (this semi-vicious cycle) all over again. And shoot, that's not to mention the "bigger plans" that fill up our minds on a daily basis.
It's because of all of this busy-ness that "plan" seems so much like an action verb. Yet look at the definitions again. In reality, the word "plan" is actually a noun. And you know what? Who said that coming up with a plan always had to be about being on the go (or preparing to be on the go) all of the time? The definitions certainly don't. Again, a plan is simply a method of proceeding, a specific project and something that has a definite purpose. So, why can't rest be a plan? Y'all, that's not a rhetorical question because, the reality is, it absolutely should.
What Does It Mean to Rest?
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "How To Handle 'Purpose Fatigue'". Pardon the pun but, I really encourage you to plan to check it out at some point. For now, I'll just say that the reason why a lot of us do not thrive in life isn't because we don't have the skills, knowledge or expertise. At the end of the day, it boils down to the fact that we're freakin' tired. Worn out. Drained. And you can never make good decisions—plans—or present your best self from this kind of head and heart space. Yet again, because we don't give ourselves permission to rest, when we get to the point of being super fatigued it alters our judgment. Suddenly, we're out here wondering if we're in our purpose, if we should stay in our marriage, if we made the right decision by having kids—the list goes on and on. And if we feed into this psyche for too long, all planning goes out of the window as we exchange it for a truly not giving AF mentality instead. As a result, we find ourselves out here going through the motions—aimless. Never refueling. Just…out here with no real direction or desire…for anything, really.
When it gets to this point and place, there really is only one remedy. Y'all, it's to rest. Resting isn't just about sleeping, yet it's unfortunate how much this very simple point gets overlooked. Resting is about conscious inactivity, especially after working. And the purpose of rest is the refresh and relieve oneself.
OK, let me reiterate that last part. First, rest has a purpose. Second, the purpose is to refresh and relieve oneself—specifically from labor. This means that if whatever you're doing and calling rest isn't refreshing (restoring) and relieving (freeing you from anxiety, alleviating distress, easing you of burdens) you, it…isn't.The reason why this is so important to put on record is it's very common for a lot of us to crash in the bed for a weekend and come out of it just about as tired as we were before we got in. It's because we were physically exhausted and perhaps we slept yet we still didn't really rest. If your mind was still going in a million directions, if you were still on social media, if you answered every (or every other) phone call—sis, that wasn't resting. Unless you are refreshed and relieved, YOU DID NOT REST (and yes, I am yelling that). No one can say they have rested, unless they are refreshed and relieved by doing it. When's the last time you've been able to say that?
How Rest and Not Planning Is the Ultimate Plan
Let's tie this all in, so that you can put a rest plan together, OK? Remember how the title of this said that not planning is planning? That wasn't clickbait. It's the truth. When you make a decision to not do anything that you normally/typically do in the name of refreshing and relieving yourself—how is that not a plan? Again, a plan is a method of proceeding. A plan is a specific project. A plan is a definite purpose. Since rest restores you, planning to do it and nothing else is all about deciding that you are going to proceed with a project that consists of doing absolutely nothing for the purpose of reestablishing you, bringing strength and vigor back to you, and getting to a point and place of holistic health and well-being. Sis, if that ain't one hell of a plan, I don't know what is.
Now that you know this, how are you going to put your rest-and-not-planning plan into place? Whatever "it" is, it can't be work-related. Whatever it is, it can't require doing anything that won't refresh and relieve you. Whatever it is, you've got to come out of it feeling completely restored. Otherwise, you didn't rest at all.
Isn't it crazy that when you take the true essence of rest into consideration, you suddenly realize that you probably rarely ever do it? And yet, there's no time like the present to start. Pull out your journal, pour yourself a glass of wine, put on some soothing music and figure out how to plan to not plan. How to be OK with sitting in a tub for an hour. How to be at peace with turning everything with an "on" button off for an entire weekend. How to not feel guilty for letting your kids stay an extra night with a trusted loved one. How to be good with saying, "I don't know" when someone asks you what your plans are for next week when you want to just not think for a while. How to choose to not plan for next month or year for a couple of weeks so that you can catch your breath and process from a more balanced space.
I know what I'm like when I'm tired. I make plans that I normally wouldn't if I were in a more rested space. That's why, these days, I typically refuse to plan anything until I've gotten some real time off of the clock in order to rejuvenate myself. And y'all, when that happens, I rarely ever regret what I decide to do.
Rest is not a luxury. If you want to live your best life, it is an absolute necessity. Don't let anyone or thing make you feel otherwise. Plan to not plan—soon. Your mind, body and spirit will be all the better for it. And then some.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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7 Black Women Bookstagrammers To Follow And The Reads By Black Authors That Empower Us
I've always been a stan for reading, and I've been a so-called book geek since kindergarten. My mom would always reward good grades and behavior with a trip to the local library, something my siblings loved more than any new toys or free time to play outside. We would spend hours at the tall stone building in the downtown area of the small town I spent my childhood in, first in the downstairs "Children's Room" (which only had books for readers 5-13). I later graduated to going (i.e., snuck) upstairs to find all the juicy celebrity autobiographies, travel books, and classics like Sula, Moby Dick, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
So today, when I see so many Black women part of #bookstagram, I feel seen because many of us love not only to read but to drown in books by Black authors, poets, historians, and researchers who continue to add to the narrative and reflection of what it truly means to be a Black person---a Black woman---in America.
Check out (and follow) a few of my favorite Black women bookstagrammers and the books that empower us:
Zora Neale Hurston is clearly an icon, and she's one of my favorite authors, thought leaders, and scholars, so this is an obvious choice for me. What I love, specifically, about this bookstagrammer's page is that it lacks pretension, is super-relatable, and includes a nice mix of nonfiction books, something I'm trying to boost in my collection.
2.Kayla Starr @blackgirlbookadventures
Another classic, Beloved was a book I unsuccessfully tried to read as a 12-year-old, tried again in my 20s (and failed), saw the film, and then fell back in love with again reading in my 30s. Black Girl Book Adventures is a page that just screams brightness, positivity, and a love for books that draws you near.
3.Black Girl With Books @blackgirlwithbooks
This book had a profound effect on me, as it connected the dots between Ghana (a place that has held a special place in my heart since my 2016 visit) and Black America in a way that blew my mind. It also helps that the storytelling and timelines are captivating and thoughtful in a way that any editor who just loves good writing--in an online content environment that seems to reward robotic, vapid, Grammarly-informed, copycat writing---would appreciate.) The founder of this page also offers info on bookstores and other interesting updates for bibliophile baes.
4.Shani Akilah @_shaniakilah
A love of travel and books? Yes, please! Shani's page is refreshing and welcoming, inviting you in on her global adventures along with her journeys through her latest reads. I'm a huge fan of books that feature Black women protagonists in Caribbean or African settings who are able to come into a higher sense of themselves through challenge or hardship. For some reason, I'm always drawn to those books, which is why this one is a top pick for me.
5.Boipelo Lecha @boipelo.reads.books
I'm not big on romance novels (after having grown out of an early obsession with Danielle Steele). At one point, I'd been yearning for a book that offered an elevated sense of the Black love experience (beyond the esteemed OGs like Terry McMillan, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Zane) and stumbled upon Love In Color. It was just what I needed because it's a collection of classic love stories retold through the lens of the author, and the tales centrally feature women.
Biopelo is an up-and-comer in the #bookstagrammer space.
I've been consumed by Black historical fiction, and this is a good one for the collection. It tells the story of a Black southern family through generations in a way that doesn't feel like a book you were forced to read for a college project. It screams, "Turn me into a six-part Netflix saga," and was a surprise hit for me because I made some very ignorant assumptions about a poet being able to write such a story. (Ah, like Maya Angelou isn't literally a queen in my head.)
Virginia-based Semiyah is literally like my reading tastes twin, down to the mix of types of books she showcases on her page, from romance fiction to new YA titles.
Lex serves up book events and information about new releases to boot, and her page doesn't scream, "Hey, I'm going to just promo books sent to me for free by publishers." On top of that, I support any and everything with the name Tiffany D. Jackson stamped on it. She's a graduate of the other HU (heeeey all my Hampton *cough*, I mean, Howard folk), and the way she puts her special stank on YA will have you wanting to actually relive your own teenage years.
Dare I say, reading her work is like the first time I read Judy Blume, Sister Souljah, and Candy Dawson Boyd---all pioneers in what is now known as young adult fiction. It's authentic, truthful, kind, real, and has a living soul, all elements I yearned for back in the late '80s and '90s as a confused, geeky, Black girl at the library and that I still yearn for as an award-winning editor, editorial manager, and self-employed woman at my big age.
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