Shhh. I’m on Sabbatical.

I’m in love with Ted. Or rather, TED,  a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. I first met TED when I clicked on a link a friend had posted on Facebook (see earlier post “The Danger of a Single Story”), and we’ve been seeing each other ever since. 

1370_253x190My latest TED crush is Stefan Sagmeister & his talk “The Power of Time Off.

Stefan is a designer who had done work for such uber-famous/cool folk as Lou Reed and the Rolling Stones. He also has this funny idea–every seven years, he shuts down his design studio for an entire year to pursue creative projects. He realized that, even doing work he absolutely loves, without creative breaks, he eventually becomes bored and uninspired, and his work risks becoming boring and uninspiring.

Think about this: we generally spend 25 years learning, 40 years working, and finally 15 years in retirement.

Stefan decided to make a 5 year withdrawal on his retirement years, and intersperse them periodically into his working years. I think this is f*ing brilliant.

If I had the magical superpowers to grant just one big gigantic monumental change in our nation, it would be to give every single citizen a paid one-year sabbatical, at least once in their life. (If I had two, by the way, and just for the record, I’d totally do some serious mind erasing on every teenage boy, to cleanse them of the idea that it is any kind of cool to walk around with one’s boxers on display, pants clinging for dear life somewhere below their collectively exposed asses. Nobody wants to see that shit. Are you with me?)

But back to my grand sabbatical-ing of this grand nation. Consider: it’s no secret that those who have the least amount of money tend to donate a higher proportion of their earned income to charity. And it is furthermore no secret that clearly these are folks who are scrappy and know how to stretch a dollar, something our country needs more of at the moment. They are also smart and creative. And artistic. And supporting families. And educating the next generation. And involved in their communities, willing to pitch in, to lend a helping hand, to do things with their time that make other people smile. They’ve lost jobs. They can’t get access to health care because they’re unemployed, or because they live with same-sex partners whose health plans they are (ridiculously, outrageously) not allowed access to. They get it. They don’t just know what kind of change is needed, they live it. Everyday. I want to waive my magical sabbatical wand over their heads. I want to hear their ideas, see their passions take shape. Right now there are a handful of–but egregiously too few–organizations who are making work like this possible.

I propose that our combined inventiveness and ingenuity, unique to each person and their passions, could collectively bring about some serious, serious change in this world of ours. Not to mention make individuals feel respected, supported, listened to, and generally kinda happy. AND. Perhaps most importantly, shift the whole way we think about “work,” re-center it so that it is in balance with other things like family, creativity, spirituality, learning, et cetera.

Who’s in?

Okay, I’ll start…I’m officially on sabbatical…

Create Your Own Micro-Economy

So part of the deal with starting this blog is that I post something every day. If you want to be a writer, absolutely nothing is more important than developing a writing habit. You can be the most talented writer in the world, but if you don’t get the words down on the page, with some sort of frequency, ain’t gunna work. 

Here’s what I want to talk about this morning, as I sit with my coffee and wait for the sun to come up:

I’ve noticed something very cool about recessions. Yes, something cool about recessions. That’s what I said. A lot of my friends are unemployed or self-employed at the moment. They are also incredibly talented people, artists, and activists, and instead of sitting on their bums (as my right wing Ohio relatives would assume) they are taking this time to pursue their own creative projects, they are volunteering their time and considerable talents to causes or establishing their own organizations for social change, they are going back to school to pursue their dreams, and they are rethinking the whole concept of employment, working from what they love and are passionate about, and trying to build an income out of it. And it’s not just my friends–check out this recent article in New York magazine on art, post-boom. As Scott Adkins, playwright and founder of the BrooklynWriters Space puts it in this interview, you have to create your own micro-economy.

Are you crafty? Set up an etsy shop.

Got a project in mind, but can’t do it without funding? Check out kickstarter.com. (And while you’re there, please please consider supporting my dear friend Sxip’s new album.

 

 

He’s the most talented musician I know, and I’ve been waiting for his new album forEVER and if I don’t get it soon I shall weep tears of sorrow.)

Think out of the (status) box. Thanks to wildly successful social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can promote and plug your friend’s endeavors, and they will do the same for you. I am frequently humbled and amazed by the folks who are out there in the world supporting and encouraging me–sometimes (in fact I’d go so far as to say “often,”) the best support comes from sources and people you would never expect. Life is full of wonderful surprises. Go with it.

In the words of Wayne Dyer:

“Rather than telling yourself: With my luck, things aren’t going to work out for me, affirm: I am open to allowing what needs to happen. I trust luck to guide me….You’ll become what you think about, so even things that you previously believed were evidence of bad luck will now be viewed as what helps you move toward greater harmony.”

Do what you love. Trust the universe. There’s no better way to live your life. Trust me. Or better yet, trust yourself.