Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Busy Equals Important?

Do you believe that? That busy = important? I think I did.

As I have shared, my life has slowed down after quitting my job recently. It’s a weird feeling not having an answer anymore to the question that people typically ask you right after they ask you your name: “What do you do”? When I had originally quit my job, I had planned on going back to school for two years to do an after degree program in Education. But the truth is that going back to school would have required much more effort than I think I have time for right now, and I actually don’t know that’s the right path for me anyway. 

So let’s see – right now I basically do all the same things that I used to do when I worked but now I have more time to do it all in. Life is just a little slower – but in a good way. I spend a lot of time in my car shuttling little bodies around the city. I drive my daughter to and from school and I also pick up my niece from kindergarten at noon and take her home. (Nevermind the regular driving from the various activities of the week). But I now have more time to volunteer in various capacities as well as catch up on neglected things around the house. 

I recognize that I am also lucky that I have more time for myself. I can enjoy some of things that simply had been ‘chores’ before – such as cooking or working out. My daughter is happier because I have a bit more patience and more time to play and engage. My dogs are happier as they get more walks and more attention. My husband is happier because I am happier. (One more equation…Happy Wife = Happy Life). 

But I know it’s not going to stay like this forever, and honestly I wouldn’t want it to. I view this time as a period of re-evaluation and self-reflection…figuring out what the next ‘stage’ is. However, it has also has me thinking a lot about slowing down in general. A couple weekends ago on HGTV there was a  “Tiny House, Big Living” marathon and I couldn’t stop watching. The show is about people majorly downsizing into homes of approximately 180 square feet?! Most of these people are either looking for adventure, or simply want to shed the burden of “stuff" (including a mortgage) and live more simply. The idea of simplifying has long been on my mind, although I could never do what they are doing.

I feel like more and more people are really re-evaluating their priorities and values. Too often we kind of just float through life, making decisions based largely on what society is doing or says we should be doing instead of really asking ourselves what WE want out of life. Too often (especially as mom's) we are rushing like mad women from one thing to another, not REALLY questioning if this is what we (as individuals and as a family) really want. 

Does little Suzy need to be in three activities this Fall? Am I hosting these playdates because I enjoy them or because I feel guilty if I don't? Do I know how to say NO to volunteering in something I don't want to? (After all, everyone is busier than me; a mom of one who doesn't work, right?) More importantly, is being this busy and stretched something I want my son/daughter to learn? My own daughter is 7 and I am guessing that within 5 years she won't want to be spending much time with her 'uncool' mom. I want her to see her mom doing things that are important to her, but it's just as important that she sees me create boundaries and say 'no thank you' to things that are not important. No explanation necessary. 

Here's the thing: If being busy is something you consciously do for reasons you are aware of - thats great! However, if you are basically coasting through all of your 'busy-ness' wishing it could be different AND wondering why you are doing it, then it's time for re-evaluation. Are you so busy because you feel that's what you need to be doing? Are you so busy because it gives you purpose? Why are you doing what you're doing and would you like to change it? 

I have been known to over-commit myself in the past. Looking back, I think it's because I was lacking purpose. If I am busy, I don't have to give much thought as to what my purpose is, or feel badly because it's lacking. Don't get me wrong...I don't see anything wrong with being busy itself. Sometimes, you need to be very busy in order to complete worthwhile tasks and goals. The point is asking yourself IF the things you are busy doing now are worthwhile tasks, or if they are fillers of some kind. 

It’s so easy to get lost in the ‘rat race’, clamoring for the next best thing. Sometimes I feel as if I am standing on the fence between “busyness” and “less is more” – watching and actually spending time on both sides…not really sure if I can actually ever commit to one over the other. But what I do know is that there is much to be said about slowing down and enjoying more of life – however it looks for you. I have heard way too many times about people who work their asses off; retire; then die.

I love the idea of having only what you actually use, wearing only what you love, and passing on things that no longer work or serve their purpose. I also love the idea of living a life of purpose, and re-evaluating what that looks like along the way. 

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Tips for Managing Stress & Anxiety (plus a smoothie recipe!)

Read my latest blog post on You Ate:  https://youate.com/tips/september-stress-autumn-anxiety/ And my smoothie recipe!