The Art of Wearing Your Jammies in Front of Your Colleagues

photo (10)I write in what my friend at Cite Something! calls day jammies.  There are subtle but important differences between day jammies and night jammies, namely the fact that you wear day jammies during the day.  Duh.

During this cold Midwestern winter, this has meant a pair of thick socks, flannel pants, an old t-shirt and a sweatshirt.  Or as I like to call it, standard issue uniform.  Day jammies have ruined me for everyday life.  I’m at the point where I reach for yoga pants if I need to go to anything remotely formal.  The other day I had to have my picture taken for a publication at work – I wore ripped jeans.  (Although that was more because I was channeling my inner librarian rocker chick.)

Why day jammies?  Because I write better if I’m comfortable and I’m most comfortable in day jammies.  So I faced quite a conundrum at my recent writing retreat, which was attended by a dozen of my academic colleagues.  I wore jeans the first day, which was ok but not great.  Yoga pants were the go-to compromise on day two.  Things got interesting the evening of day one.

Imagine: the lounge of a retreat center, complete with a tiny TV (but with cable!) and a wall of board games and puzzles with missing pieces.

Do I bow to convention and wear jeans OR do I walk bravely into the fray, wearing my day jammies?

Day jammies for the win.  I even got a few compliments!

Here are my secrets for wearing day jammies in front of your colleagues:

1. Get tenure.

2. Trap your colleagues in a sequestered location, such as a snowy retreat center.

3. Day jammies fashion show.

At this point, I’d like to think I’d transition into a lovely reflection on bravery and how wearing day jammies in front of colleagues taught me about risk and self-identity, but really I just wanted to write about jammies.  Now if I can somehow wear my jammies to a cemetery, the blog will have come full circle.

Strategic Retreats

20140208_165606I spent the weekend at a writing retreat with several of my colleagues.  I am all about retreats – mismatched yet comfy furniture, homemade food and plenty of time for navel gazing.  My colleagues got to see me in my jammies, which they no doubt appreciate.  Also, no kids the entire weekend, discounting the junior high youth group sharing quarters with us.  Plus, a pool!

The weather even “warmed up” so it was possible to be outside for almost an hour without exposed skin freezing.  (I really did get outside for an enlightening walk – more photographic evidence below.)

In the past (I’m talking pre-sabbatical), I’ve struggled with devoting big blocks of time to writing.  Even when I get past the logistics of setting aside uninterrupted time, I have to confront the voices saying there are better ways I “should” be spending my time.  Often I can quiet these monsters by closing the door and turning off Facebook, but my thoughts often stray to the outside world, where I imagine everyone else is engaged in productive work.

Let’s set aside the idea that writing is somehow not productive.  A) it is productive, even if it’s not always obvious and B) productivity is not necessarily the best standard of measurement for creative work.

The barrier that keeps me from writing sometimes, however, is the idea that I should be doing something else.  It’s difficult to give myself permission to sit down and write.  For two days, I didn’t have that problem.  For two days, I sat in a spacious room, chipping away at the second draft of my second novel, while over a dozen people sat in the same room, working on projects of their own.  Safety – and creativity – in numbers.  Plus, a pool!

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Barrier: the nagging voices that say your time could be better spent elsewhere than on the page

Solution: Writing retreat – browse for nearby retreat centers or in a pinch, grab a writing buddy and isolate yourselves in your living room for a few hours

*Special thanks to the folks at the Kendall Center who made this retreat possible.