FRANK TALK ABOUT WHAT WE DO WITH OUR LIVES

Welcome

In Notes on February 11, 2016 at 12:05 am

Work Stew is a collection of original essays and in-depth interviews. To learn more, please visit the FAQ.

New essays and interviews will be added regularly, so please check in often. Or you can sign up to receive email notifications of new contentlook for the button at the bottom right of the site.

Also, Work Stew now has its very own Facebook page; if you ‘like’ it, you’ll be able to see periodic updates in your news feed. You can also receive notices of new content via Twitter.

 

A brief history:

The site was launched in January 2011, when I published “Random Acts of Business,” an essay about extraordinarily long hot dogs, True Believers, and my lifelong quest for flow. Since then more than 70 other essays have been added to the mix.

You can view a complete list of contributors here. To date, the Top Ten Readers’ Favorites* are (in alphabetical order):

Molly Bishop Shadel A law professor writes about juggling her wide-ranging legal career with a personal life

Gerald Casale A founding member of the ground-breaking and enduring band Devo reflects on what constitutes “work.” 

Samantha Cole A prep school grad embraces her “inner laborer.” 

Ronald J. Granieri An historian pulls back the ivy to reveal what life in academia is really like.  

Tasha Huebner A self-employed Wharton grad takes a hammer to the old chestnut, “Do what you love, and the money will come.” 

Meg Heimovics Kumin A software developer reboots after three babies and two family crises and emerges as a photographer

Gopi Kallayil A Googler ponders the power of intention after an idea scribbled on a piece of paper almost immediately springs to life. 

Lindsay Moran Following the Abbottabad raid, an ex-spy reflects on her decision to leave the CIA

Rhino A soldier describes what it’s like to come home, including what goes through his mind when someone says to him, “Thank you for your service.” 

Terri Rowe A longtime factory worker reveals the secret identity that has sustained her since she was four years old. 

If you’re interested in submitting an essay of your own, please write to me at kate@workstew.com. I’d love to hear your story.

Thanks,
Kate

Kate Gace Walton
Editor, Work Stew

*Note: ‘Readers’ Favorite’ is a pretty subjective designation based on page views, shares, comments, and the volume of love/hate mail each essay has so far inspired. So, read all the essays; as they say, your mileage may vary.

Contest #8: Memorable Bosses

In Contests on January 14, 2016 at 10:15 pm

Cherry-Office-Chair_Edit-1170x1534The Prompt
Tell us about the manager who has affected you the most—for better or for worse No real names, please. Just vivid, juicy tales from your work life, past or present.

Deadline
Midnight PST on February 15, 2016

The Prize
$200 for the winner, to be announced on February 22, 2016. The winning entry, and perhaps some other entries, will be published here on Work Stew.

Eligibility and Word Count
Only entries that have not been published elsewhere are eligible. Word limit: 600 words, max.

How to Submit
Email your entry to kate@workstew.com. You will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours of sending in your entry.

“So…how WAS it?”

In Essays on January 3, 2016 at 2:44 pm

By Kate Gace Walton

Kate Chilling OutI left Facebook for a few weeks in December. I was tired from a hard year, and I wanted a stretch of relative emptiness in which to regroup. Since returning yesterday, I’ve been asked a few times: “So…how WAS it?” As if I had ventured into the wilderness and tried to survive on insects.

I get it, though. For many of us, Facebook has become, for better or for worse, something of an anchoring force: we check it religiously, we post often, and, if one of our regulars is MIA, we start to wonder what’s wrong.

So, on the off chance my field notes prove helpful to others considering a similar hiatus, here are my observations from the experience:

Things that are hard to dolike writing a bookremain hard, even in the absence of social media distractions. It’s tempting to think you might produce something really good if you just got off Facebook, and you mightbut nothing about it will be easy.

What will be easy? Flossing! And personal grooming more generally. My dentist was dead wrong when he chided, “Everyone has time to floss.” But he was kind of right if he meant “Everyone who’s not on Facebook.” In that case, there’s heaps of time! Not only did I floss: I brushed my tongue. I massaged my gums. I gargled. (Basically, my mouth was like, “Who ARE you???”)

And, yes, my mind was quieter. With fewer lives to glimpse, and fewer perspectives to consider, it was definitely easier to be more present in my own life. I listened, spellbound with my husband and children, to three Harry Potter books. I walked in snowy woods and heard the silence. I talked with friends and family about the things I don’t discuss on Facebook, largely because they aren’t mine alone to share.

But my mind was also emptier. I was reading books and watching movies, but, news-and-ideas junkie that I am, I really missed my Facebook “newspaper”: the ten or so articles I read from my feed every morning and would otherwise fail to find. I live on an island. Not a metaphorical islandan actual island. Without far-flung friends of all sorts pushing the pieces that matter to them, it would be easy to lose sight of the sheer diversity, both heartening and horrible, of human experience.

In short, I’m glad to be back. This year, I plan to walk in silence for a while every day. I’ve also resolved to multitask less, giving people, books, and movies more of my undivided attention. And of course I hope to keep flossing. But Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will remain a part of my day. For me, they work.

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