Doing Nothing

I am currently reading two different books about doing nothing.*

Yes, I do see the irony in that.

I’m really interested in the idea of doing nothing and what “doing nothing” means for different people.

I rarely, if ever, do literally nothing.

My ADHD brain won’t start for it.

BUT that doesn’t mean that I am always working or always being “productive.” (Blech)

I make a distinction between work (for pay or for purpose) time and my other time. I spend my other time in a variety of ways but I have almost always planned what is going to happen during that time.

I might be doing a household project or I might be reading. I could be drawing or going for a walk.

Knowing the plan and how long I will spend at something is a crucial element in my relaxation. If I don’t decide in advance, my brain will keep trying to figure out if I am spending enough time at the activity or if is time to switch to a different one.

I’m not stuck with the plan once it is made either, I can choose to change it. But the choice has to be conscious or I will not stay relaxed.

So I may have chosen to lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling for 20 minutes. (Which is technically doing nothing but for me is an activity I chose in that moment.) At the end of 20 minutes, I can choose to spend another 20 or 10 or an hour. That will all still feel relaxing.

But, if I try to just lie there for an indeterminate amount of time, my brain will be full of questions “Is this what you should be doing? Have you forgotten something? Have you been lying here too long? Are you done yet?”

For me, lying on the couch for a specific amount of time is not ‘doing nothing’ – it’s lying on the couch.

Anyway, I do understand that there is a lot of pressure on all of us to be working hard and being productive all the time and I can just as easily fall victim to it as anyone else can.

But I also resist the idea that having a plan or a schedule means that I am not relaxed ‘enough’ or that I am ‘always working.’

I’m interested to see what the books have to say about ‘nothing’ and what insights they might have for my busy brain.

These flowers have nothing do with this post. I just think they are pretty.

A patch of small purple flowers surrounded by green leaves
Image description: a patch of small purple flowers surrounded by green leaves.

*The books are ‘How to do Nothing’ by Jenny Odell and ‘The Lost Art of Doing Nothing’ by Maartje Willems.

What I’m Reading

I am happy to report that, even though I am only part way through Morgan-Cole’s Most Anything You Pleaseit is every bit as terrific as her previous books.IMG_1019

Reading Trudy’s work is an immersive experience. Whenever I get the opportunity to read her work, I look forward to sinking right into her story and making friends with her characters.

Trudy doesn’t create worlds, she creates neighbourhoods, and, then, she fills those neighbourhoods with people you know. You feel like these are characters from your own past, or perhaps people your parents have told you about.

They feel familiar, perhaps that even if you don’t exactly know them, you know people like them. They make sense and you care about them.

What more could you want out of a story?




Reading: T Kingfisher’s Toad Words

51eoLxCu+BL._AA218_I’m not finished reading ‘Brainstorm’ but I don’t generally read non-fiction without also having some fiction on hand to relax with. I have read T Kingfisher’s book of short stories Toad Words before but I needed to refresh myself on the details when I hosted the Storytelling Circle during the St. John’s Storytelling Festival last week.

I have been trying for years to find the right angle to tell the title story from. Even though it is in first person, and very well-written, it wasn’t quite in the right language for *me* to tell it aloud. Meanwhile, Kingfisher’s language is delightful and playful, and it feels like she is telling you the story personally, like her phrasing is an in-joke for the two of you. It’s really fun.

I like how she takes well known tales and spins them a little to get a new perspective and I often find myself saying, ‘Huh, never thought of it that way.’ when I read her work.

I’ll be telling other stories of hers once I have her permission and once I find the right angle again.(Yes, I had her permission to tell Toad Words.)

She has a variety of short story collections and books available and if you like quirky stories based on traditional tales, you should check them out.

Reading: Daniel Siegel’s ‘Brainstorm’

I have always been troubled by our cultural notion that teenagers are inherently difficult people and that there is no way to avoid having a miserable time with your child during those years.

I mean, I understand that going through all that change in a few short years is challenging, and that there are a lot of misunderstandings that can (and do) occur.

I’m not naive, I’m just hopeful.

I can’t help but wonder if some of the problems that crop up have to do with the cultural expectation described above. You know,  the way that, if you expect trouble, you often find it?*

DrDanSiegel_Brainstorm_Cover_Small 3D AT

Anyway, as usual when I start wondering about something, I started researching, and that led me to Daniel. J. Siegel’s book ‘Brainstorm.’ I’m reading it right now and I’ll let you know how it goes. So far, I like what what he has to say and I’ll be writing more about it when I’m done.

If this topic intrigues you, too, you might want to check out Brainstorm.


*Please know that if you are struggling to communicate with your teenager, I’m NOT saying that you are the cause of the trouble. I’m not thinking of individual cases here, I’m wondering about our cultural approach. This stuff is just hard all around. For everyone.


Reading: Jaye Well’s ‘Volatile Bonds’

I love Jaye Wells.

I want to hang out with her and drink things that aren’t good for me and talk about writing and magic and about how cool it is to make stuff up.

I like how her characters are real people. Their actions make sense, even if those actions are profoundly stupid. They seem like people you could know, people you could love, not despite their faults but INCLUDING their faults.

Jaye’s writing style and her approach to her projects makes me want to write more things, and I like that in an author. The fact that she has been kind and encouraging every time I reach out to her is just a bonus.

Confession: Jaye recently ‘liked’ a piece of flash fiction I shared on Instagram and I did a little dance in my kitchen while squeeing. It doesn’t matter if she even actually read it, the thought that she *might* have read something I had written was a thrill.

I bought her latest book ‘Volatile Bonds’ a couple of weeks ago with the plan that I was going to dive into it right away. I thought that I was mostly done with the hard work of planning the ARTFUSiON Festival and I was going to have a bit of free time. (I can hear you laughing from here) Of course, things went awry and instead of diving right in, I have been reading about Kate Prospero’s adventures in bits and pieces, staying up way too late to absorb a few more words.

So, this isn’t a book review or anything, this is just me saying I am delighted by Jaye Wells’ work once again. I am thoroughly enjoying her writing, the characters, the world she has created and if you like detective-y urban fantasy books with well-crafted plots and complicated people, you should pick up Volatile Bonds.

PS – Also, buy all of Jaye’s other books. Writers have to eat.