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Celebrating the Sabbath: Making Saturdays *Me* Time

I have an announcement to make:  I’m going to start celebrating the Sabbath. No, I’m not getting in touch with my inner Jew. (For the...

I have an announcement to make:  I’m going to start celebrating the Sabbath.

No, I’m not getting in touch with my inner Jew. (For the moment, I think I’ll continue to remain Jew-ish rather than Jewish.)

I’m afraid it’s a much less lofty goal than that. I’ve decided not to work on Saturdays anymore (read: no blogging, no email, no Facebook, no Twitter) so that I can focus more on myself. Or – to put it more accurately – I’d like to designate Saturdays as a day for doing things outside of work that also make me happy.

Yes, I know it’s a radical concept. But as Colleen of Communicatrix fame points out with characteristic wit and insight, it’s really hard to find time for the things we wish to prioritize in our lives unless we make room for them. She’s turning all of January into December so that she can take stock, clear the decks and plunge in with some new projects. Back in November, I took a self-imposed vacation so that I could send out my novel to agents.

The break I have in mind for Saturdays is somewhat different. The above projects are all about carving out space to move forward on the work front. What I have in mind is moving forward on the life front. For as I sat in a Viennese coffee house over the holidays and reflected on my life, I realized that in my never-ending quest to get on top of my to-do list, two things that  bring me true happiness had both fallen by the wayside:   doing yoga and reading The New Yorker.

You see, this is how my mind works. If something gets deemed a necessity in my life, it gets done. If it’s deemed a luxury, it may or may not get done. But if it does get done, that likely only happens around 11:59 p.m. on a Thursday evening with half an eyelid open and the corresponding amount of energy. And because I had begun labeling both yoga and The New Yorker “luxuries,” they just weren’t happening anymore, at least with the regularity that’d like.

So I’m making a change. For the next month – and I’m telling you this because one way you signal a commitment is to give yourself a time-line and say it out loud – I’m going to experiment with assigning myself only two jobs on Saturday – going to yoga and reading The New Yorker. My hope is that if I can do just those two things (with anything else a bonus), I’ll not only be happier, I’ll actually be more productive when I do return to the computer. If this strategy goes well and proves realistic, I’ll commit for the year.

Of course, I’m hoping that this new routine will incur other benefits as well. To wit:

*more face-to-face parenting, rather than shouting commands over my shoulder as I hurtle through my RSS feed

*making a dinner that does not involve something out of a jar from Tesco

*quality time with my husband so that we can watch more DVD commentaries and listen to Garrison Keillor together

*actually playing all those board games that I bought for Hanukkah (BTW: Settlers of Catan? Totally worth it…)

And who knows? Maybe we’ll even make it to synagogue one of these days…

*****

On a much more somber note, here’s a piece I did for PoliticsDaily.com about the ongoing drama surrounding the theft of a sign from Auschwitz.


Image: The New Yorker Fugitive by Rakka via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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  1. Kristen January 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Amen!

    I remember reading an article in the New York Times a few years back about an Upper West Side Jewish family and their efforts to make Shabbat modern, relevant, and meaningful (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/18/nyregion/18DECA.html?scp=7&sq=modern%20shabbat&st=cse&pagewanted=all). Of their updated rituals, the father said, “[T]hese are our rituals. They are part of our struggle to honor if not the letter of Shabbat then the spirit of Shabbat.”

    I salute your dedication to taking a break and prioritizing the necessary luxuries of life. (By the way, yoga and The New Yorker would top my list as well.)

    Now if I could only persuade myself to borrow a page from your playbook…

    • delialloyd January 4, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

      thank you. and thx for the article which I’ve flagged to read (but not on Saturday!!) it is an ongoing struggle but a worthwhile one I think. Cheers and happy new year

  2. Ann Rose' January 4, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    For many years my Sunday has been:
    Go out to breakfast with my husband
    Read the Sunday paper
    Cook dinner

    That’s it. If those things get done, it is a full day. It is truly restful…in the way the Sabbath should be.

    Enjoy!

    Ann R.

    • delialloyd January 4, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

      love it ann rose! that’s exactly what I have in mind!

  3. Colleen Wainwright January 4, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    Yaaaaay!

    Wildly inspiring. I hope that by the end of January, I’ll have given myself enough room that taking one day off per week will be as automatic as breathing. In the meantime, I plan to enjoy the HELL out of watching you do it first!

  4. daryl boylan January 4, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    Hey hey,all the way!

  5. Jean January 5, 2010 at 3:55 am #

    Delia – thanks for putting that out there, just reading it makes me remember to take time for MOI!

  6. Susan @ 2KoP January 9, 2010 at 9:36 pm #

    So, since I’m posting this comment on Saturday, I have clearly not heeded your advice — although I do admire it. Love Settlers, BTW. My brother buys us all these great board games. This year’s addition: Dominion. I haven’t played yet, but my boys love it. My favorite (apart from Scrabble, of course) is Alhambra. Enjoy your day. I’m keeping up my other resolutions, and may add this one down the line.

    • delialloyd January 10, 2010 at 10:23 am #

      ah! another Settlers fan! I will have to try Dominion. And Alhambra…thx for the tips. (PS-sabbath really worked nicely for me-I was so much less distracted!)

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