When What Brings You Joy Is Taking A Break

Joanne Tombrakos
3 min readFeb 1, 2019

It seems everyone is tidying things up. Cleaning out closets. Shredding papers. Sending clothes to Goodwill. Letting go, as Marie Kondo suggests in her book, Tidying Up (which for the record I have not read nor have I watched the Netflix series) of anything that does not bring you joy.

On the one hand this idea appeals to me. It sounds much more pleasurable than throwing out what was once your favorite pair of jeans because they no longer fit and you don’t expect them to again any time soon or those gladiator sandals that brought you lots of joy at one time but now, even post bunion surgery torture your feet. The very same ones you swore you would never throw out, even if you lived to be a hundred years old and could only wear them while seated in a chair.

But just because something does not bring you joy now doesn’t mean it hasn’t in the past. Which makes me think that maybe some things are worth holding on to for the memory of that joy. Or maybe they might resurrect themselves in the future the way 1970s bell bottom jeans and platform sandals found their way into the 21st Century and you’ll be glad you didn’t part ways.

Now I admit it feels really good after I’ve gone through the sock drawer and dumped the pairs with threadbare heels, even when all that remains are two good pairs. The air seems a bit fresher. But does it always have to be just keep or toss? What about just putting something aside that’s not bringing you joy now and waiting a bit before it finds its way down the trash chute?

Take my almost weekly newsletter, One Woman’s Eye. When I first began writing it, it gave me lots of joy. I loved curating links and adding in my personal take on what I thought of those links. I liked seeing the list grow and I loved it when I would get a personal note from a reader telling me how much they enjoyed it and looked forward to opening it on Sunday mornings. That brought me pure, unadulterated joy.

But lately, not so much. I’ve found myself not looking forward to it and preferring to just blog. It’s become more of a chore than a joy and taking me away from my other writing and I have no doubt that is reflected in the finished product.

I’ve struggled with simply tossing it out like the trash or continuing to dig in and see if I can reclaim the joy I once found creating it. I’ve been convinced it was an either or, all or nothing decision. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that like any relationship it is not always a choice between breaking up or staying through the tough times. Sometimes what’s needed is a time out. A bit of space to think things through. In the end it might be for good or maybe you just need some time away to put things in perspective to bring the joy back.

I don’t know if there is a definitive answer but I know what I’ve decided to do. My almost weekly newsletter is not headed for the trash, but it is on an indefinite hiatus until I figure things out. I’ll blog when the muse strikes and with no planned editorial calendar of when that will happen. I’ll take note of what sparks joy and what doesn’t and be back to you with the results. Eventually.

Originally published at joannetombrakos.com on February 1, 2019.



Joanne Tombrakos

Calling myself a Storyteller since before it was trendy. I use story to teach, pitch, think and escape. Podcaster. Writer. NYU Prof. Follow@joannetombrakos