Living in a highly connected world can be both exciting and stressful. There are so many fun and unique ways to communicate with people, learn and explore topics, stay informed on events, and more. On the other hand, it is difficult to “turn off” the constant messages, news updates, unfiltered opinions of loved ones and strangers, and work. Discovering the balance between being connected and being a person is becoming more and more crucial with every new app.

Author and artist, Marlee Grace is here to help those who have difficulty striking that balance. Her new book, How to Not Always Be Working is a thoughtful exploration of identifying the boundaries of work, addressing addiction and anxieties, and ways to restore “off time” to rejuvenate yourself.

“This book was born from integrating everything that I loved into my business at the time,” says Grace. She ran a shop and artists’ residency and began to incorporate her hobby of knitting into the business. “It pushed something over the edge as my internet personality grew. Everything was work. Everything was my job. I wrote a zine in 2015 that turned into this book.”

In between the zine and this book, Grace ran workshops to help people learn to set boundaries between work and personal time. “I taught this workshop 15 times all over the country and worked with people whose work spans different things – nonprofit, artists, nurses, social justice,” says Grace. “I was always surprised by people who came from ‘non-creative’ jobs. There was one woman who was a designer for a furniture company. She’d go home and think about how she could be promoted and become more valuable to the company. She became obsessed with furniture and design and how it applied to her job. It’s about the intention of the work. If you come home and play on Pinterest after work, that’s great. But if it is consuming you, that’s a different thing. She came out of this workshop thinking, ‘I need my friends. I need to not talk about work with them.’”

In the book, she says, “Turn your phone off and go outside and never tell anyone you did it.” Grace wants readers to experience life outside of their work and phones. “Part of my experience in the world is being an addict, and part of my addiction is work addiction. My real hope for the book is for people to pay deep attention, be in awe, and see their one life,” says Grace. “Be present for it, be of service to the greater work that has to be done, and be available to people they love. It took almost 30 years to realize that I’m on Earth.”

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Brynn Devereaux
Brynn Devereaux
"Brynn Devereaux is a freelance writer for Baltimore OUTloud. As an arts writer, she enjoys exploring the local arts scene and bringing attention to new books and authors. Brynn is a Scranton expat and a Towson University graduate."