Gentle is not a word I would typically use to describe myself.

I quit ballet to do karate and jumped from a career in advertising to tech to teaching to TV. In grade-school, I was nicknamed “psycho Sabrina Smelko.” So I’ve never quite understood the concept of taking a break, and rest has been a thing that felt prescribed rather than a thing to be enjoyed.

But between my health taking priority in the past year paired with the realization that life doesn’t get any shorter or more predictable, easing into things with more grace has replaced nearly twisting an ankle running to the next checkpoint.

In the past, down-time meant growing stir crazy and imagining myself loosing skill with each day that passed.

And that’s both a natural and nurtured feeling. As a creative freelancer, the looming—albeit subtle—fear of never being hired again and loosing relevance/wittiness/talent/popularity was constant. I chased work and a normal conversation about my career was always highlighted with questions like: “So, what are you working on now?”, “What’s next?” and “Have they hired you again?” We tend to live within small circles, in a path that we trace over and over again.

But I’m not interested in anything I’ve ever done before. What I want to do next is always something new.

It’s not that I’m a wild, can’t-be-tamed spirit—actually, I’m quite practical. Rather, it’s a lot like that famous Ira Glass talk regarding the constant gap between how the work we’re making never quite catches up to our taste and what we know we’re capable of.

That gap is what haunts me in the most positive way one can be haunted.

Working has always been the main topic of my adult life with each year, month, day defined by what project I was currently toying with. And while I don’t see that tendency ever changing much—save for when raising a potential family takes priority—but the tempo and my general feeling surrounding it have.

I no longer chase the next, quick editorial job. I’d rather ease into a handful of bigger, more meaningful projects over the course of a year rather than start and end a few tasks every week. And for the first time in a while, I see how progress can be present—and, really, how it’s paramount—to growth and bridging that gap between work and taste.

Maturity probably has a lot to do with it. As does pausing to really question things—which I don’t think is necessarily encouraged in today’s society. I’ve talked before about intention and how I’m less and less inclined to subscribe to the machine that is social media, and I think where I find myself has a lot to do with those philosophies. It’s not that I necessarily experiment and try things less, it’s that I’m a lot more aware of the things and people that waste my time. And frankly, I’m uninterested in entertaining them.

So as I find myself in a state that one could easily view as flux (where I could either be booked from September through the new year filming, or completely unencumbered by call sheets) I’m surprised to find myself calm rather than antsy. I may not know what’s around the corner, but I’ve come to accept that I never have and that not knowing isn’t innately bad.

Now I see this unasked for time off as a gift I can use to cultivate the next chapter.

(PS: Ironically, this was merely an outfit post that resulted in an essay, which is perhaps all the proof needed to illustrate how downtime breeds thought. Shopping links below.)

x, S

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