06.27.2016

Chase Less and Embrace More

Monday: Playdate + meal plan
Tuesday: Swim lessons + prepare class gift to teachers since you are, you know, the room mom
Wednesday: Work event + Happy Hour
Thursday: Volunteer + attend the event you RSVP’d for before your schedule got insane
Friday: Kid’s school event + prepare dinner for the new mom down the street
Saturday: Work out + Kid’s birthday party (+ buy and wrap the gift for the kid’s birthday party)
Sunday: Neighborhood block party (+ grocery shop and prepare dish for said party…)

Sometimes, I get exhausted looking at my calendar. I look at my commitments for the week – all things which I’ve planned, which I’ve said yes to, and I dread the week before me. Not because they’re things I don’t want to do – in fact, most of the things I say yes to are absolutely things I want to do. But because there’s just so many of them…and I can’t do all-the-things. In the past year, I’ve made a concerted effort to chase less and embrace more. In other words, I’m doing my best not to over-schedule and under-rest so my calendar looks less and less like this these days, but by no means am I beyond the “busy.”

Overcoming the Need to “Look Busy”

The other day, I ran into a co-worker on my way to lunch, and she casually asked me how I was doing. For some reason, I felt the need to launch into how busy I was. Tiny alarm bells rang inside of me: “Tell her you’re busy!” “You’re so busy!” The truth is, I wasn’t that busy on that particular day. I don’t know what got into me – I’m the kind of person that’s perfectly content eating by myself at a cafe or sitting on a park bench for no other reason than to reflect on what’s good in life. I don’t usually feel the need to “look busy” just for the sake of looking busy, but at that particular moment, I felt a subtle pressure to live the lie that busy = good.

What is it about the tempting buzz of a busy life that draws us in? I find that so many people I know and work with are literally addicted to being busy. And I get it: being busy often leaves presence in the dust, and it can be hard to be present and mindful. Being present brings up feelings and emotions that we don’t always want to feel.

Our culture so often perpetuates the lie that more is always better. More friends. More time. More money. More house. More recognition. More respect. But when is enough enough? When do we stop the hustle and embrace the simple?

What is it about the tempting buzz of a busy life that draws us in? I find that so many people I know and work with are literally addicted to being busy. And I get it: being busy often leaves presence in the dust, and it can be hard to be present and mindful. Being present brings up feelings and emotions that we don't always want to feel.

Intentionally Busy vs. Unconsciously Busy

Being busy isn’t inherently bad. We all have busier seasons in life than others, seasons when we have to focus on the small things first. But there’s a difference between being busy just for the sake of having a full calendar and being intentionally busy. When getting together with a friend feels more like an obligation than an opportunity to connect, then maybe it’s time to think hard about what’s life-giving vs. life-draining. And that might just mean saying “no” once in awhile.

White Space Requires Saying “No”

Last fall, I was feeling really down. Around Thanksgiving, I realized that my downward spiral was affecting more than just me – it was especially affecting the kind of wife I was. I remember standing in my kitchen one night and telling my husband that I wasn’t in a good place. I was stressed out, lethargic, short-tempered….I was unhappy. And I was busy. Something needed to change. I prayed, I researched, I read, and by the grace of God, stumbled upon Tsh Oxenreider’s Upstream Field Guide.

It felt like a lifeline – a guide that literally walked me through defining my values, my core beliefs, my personal mission statement. How often do we dig deep and think about what we value and why? If someone were to ask you tomorrow what 5 things you valued most in life, would it be easy to answer? How deep would you have to dig?

When I think about what my own values are, they’re crystal clear.

But it’s one thing to know your values – it’s another thing entirely to live your values. tweet

For example, one of the things I value most is authenticity in relationships. And I’ve found that for me, being authentic in my relationships requires plenty of white space. And white space requires saying no. Saying no to the volunteer opportunity, the baby shower, the 12th fundraiser I’ve been invited to, the school picnic, or the happy hour you know you’d enjoy but might just bring you to your breaking point. When I’m running from dance class to happy hour or from church to the baby shower to book club, it’s impossible to be authentic 100% of the time because I’m literally strung out. I’m stretched to my breaking point.

Being authentic requires me to s.l.o.w  d.o.w.n. And you know what? It turns out that I really love living slowly.

What is it about the tempting buzz of a busy life that draws us in? I find that so many people I know and work with are literally addicted to being busy. And I get it: being busy often leaves presence in the dust, and it can be hard to be present and mindful. Being present brings up feelings and emotions that we don't always want to feel.

Save

Save

About Erin

I'm a thirty-something, coffee-loving mom of two living in a funky neighborhood in Seattle....all while seeking a balance between keeping up and slowing down.

Comments

  1. I am too busy right now. I don’t like being this busy. I want a lazy summer. Badly. I need to say no more often. Thank you for this post, Erin. I needed it.

    • Saying no can be hard, LaVonne! I struggle with it, too, especially when I have to say no to things that I *know* I’d enjoy. The challenge is finding that balance of being both present (which requires white space) and engaged (which requires participation) with the world around us. ๐Ÿ™‚ One day at a time!

  2. I can so relate to this and it makes me happy to read that others feel like this too. I am constantly trying to find a balance between all the things I feel like I need to do and just making time to be me and be mindful and check in with myself. It is so important to make sure that you don’t forget about yourself in the bustle of trying to do everything.

    • Melanie – thank you so much for your comment. There is definitely something comforting in knowing that others struggle with balance. It can be easy to feel like we’re on a remote desert island when we start to feel the overwhelm creep in, but remembering that *everyone* struggles with balance – even those who look like they have it all together – is like a life line sometimes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I needed this post — life has been so hectic this year and I have found myself being irritable and unhappy even when it comes to things that I love. Lately even getting together with friends or doing something fun seems like a chore. I need to figure out how to slow down and enjoy the moment. I am so glad that I read this post! Thank you for sharing!

    • McKenzie – I hear you! I have so been in that place where doing things that *should* be enjoyable are hard – we all have seasons like that. A little bit of white space in our lives can be such good food for the soul. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. YES YES YES! Slow living is so refreshing but I definitely feel you on the need to SAY that life is busy. There’s something prideful about it I think.

    • Susannah – there *is* something oh-so refreshing about slowing down, despite the fact that we can’t live like that ALL the time. ๐Ÿ™‚ One day at a time, right?!

  5. I 100% relate to this right now. Last weekend I “grounded” myself and only let myself rest. I desperately needed it, even though all of the busy things I do are things I want to do and enjoy doing! I really appreciate the encouragement here.

    • Brittany – it’s so nice (and important) to have rest. Good for you for making the time to take care of yourself! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I am always so busy, but you are so right here! I know I need to slow down and enjoy each day without needing to fill it!

    • Jennifer – it’s hard to slow down, especially when we’re being asked left and right to do things (many of which we really want to do!). But rest is oh-so important for the soul. One day at a time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Betsy Todd says:

    The baby is so cute, and nice post. We must hard work to have a good life.

    Enjoy the job with good mood, even it is very hard

    Betsy Todd | http://www.missygowns.com/formal-dresses.html

  8. Sarah Tosti says:

    Our culture glorifies busyness. I hope to be a “city girl” who can live like I belong in the country, with enough space and down time that I can take life in, sit back often in gratefulness, enjoy little joys and relationships, and welcome the spontaneous ways to love others. Love your post.

    • Sarah, I’m right there with you. ๐Ÿ™‚ We can live in the city-country together! Love you, my friend.

Speak Your Mind

*