Busy is a 4-letter word

I’m sitting with a small group of women, close friends catching up on what we’ve all been up to recently. As we each take our turn going over what is happening in our lives the common theme is that everyone is overwhelmingly busy and being tugged in a million directions, so busy fulfilling our obligations that we have no time left for ourselves, our families, our own sanity. We fret over all the balls we have in the air and the fact that we feel obligated to add more. We feel compelled to reach out to others and connect, yet feel exhausted at the idea of stretching ourselves ever thinner. Does this sound familiar to you?

Almost everybody I know is feeling the stress and fatigue of being overly busy in their lives. It seems to be an ongoing and celebrated theme in our culture these days, this idea of being busy and frazzled. We’re all running 100 miles an hour and ending our days feeling as if we only accomplished half of our to-do list. If we’re not on the brink of total exhaustion and breakdown then we’re perceived as lazy and lacking. But I’m here to tell you that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Having left the corporate rat race over a year ago, I can tell you that the complete lack of “busy” in my life has made all the difference in the world. I no longer spend every evening of my life worrying and planning for the next day or week or month, the punch list of everything I have to get done. I am so much more present in the moment to moment pieces of my life. I still work, I still have bills to pay and chores to do and the mundane aspects of life still exist, of course. But for the first time in as long as I can remember, I am fully present for all of it and making plans to navigate it the way I really want to.

I am able to set my priorities and decide what is truly important in my life. For so long, I allowed the world around me to dictate how I lived my life and that’s not happening any more. We have sold at least 80% of our belongings and are transitioning from a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house on 5 acres to a tiny fifth wheel camper. Instead of feeling apprehensive or unsure, I feel more free than I’ve ever felt in my life. The more we get rid of, the more I want to let go of. I’m finding that without all of the material possessions, we are able to focus on activities and experiences. Instead of purchasing ever more “stuff” to fill our overly-large home with, we are getting out and travelling, experiencing the world around us. We’re getting outside and active, meeting people and living life.

For me, it’s really a matter of quality over quantity. What does it matter if you surround yourself with a plethora of pretty “stuff” but you’re so busy and lonely that you never experience real happiness? I love the fact that I choose how to spend my days. Even on the days that I choose to go to work, it’s a choice and not a miserable obligation. Sometimes I run around all day getting tasks and errands done, sometimes I stay in my comfy clothes and watch movies or read all day. Sometimes we take the dogs for a long walk and meet new people, sometimes we go for long bike ride, sometimes we travel all day and night to watch a Lions game with fellow diehard fans.

I guess the bottom line for me is that the whole idea of being “busy” is the absolute last thing that I find enjoyable, enviable, admirable or even palatable. To me, “busy” is a 4-letter word, something to be avoided at all costs. Being focused and determined, putting in time and effort and dedication, this is not the same as being busy. When I hear someone say that they’re busy I equate that with allowing themselves to be pulled in every direction, not giving their full attention to any of them and ending the day feeling exhausted yet unfulfilled. What a horrible way to spend a life! This life is a gift from God and I can’t imagine a scenario where He would be pleased with our spending it being busy.

So often, I have heard that inner voice prompting me to start a conversation with a stranger or reach out to an old friend or just take a moment during my day to be present. Yet if we’re so busy fluttering from thing to thing, we ignore these prompts in favor of staying within our busy, scheduled lives. How ridiculous are we? Instead of worrying about being 10 minutes late to something completely unimportant, what if we listened to that internal voice urging us to be present and available to the people placed in our paths? What can we do today to pare down that list of responsibilities and obligations so that we can be open to opportunities that aren’t yet aware of?

Again, we all have bills to pay and lives to live, I’m not suggesting we all fly off the deep end and go nomadic like Ron and I are soon (hopefully!). But if we tried just a little bit to stop allowing ourselves to be consumed with “busy” and choose instead to stop and breathe and relax and embrace the life that is laid out in front of us, I just know we’d all be a little bit lighter and a whole lot more fulfilled at the end of our day. Who knows what each day could bring if we weren’t so determined to fill every moment with our own to-do list and instead embraced what the world has planned for us!

Copyright 2019, all rights reserved. All images taken by me unless otherwise stated.

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