Photo by Arno Smit
Dear friends. I’m going to offer you an apology. I feel as though I’ve been lying to you, or perhaps – at best – tricking you. Despite my best intentions to live authentically and honestly, these intentions have collided with my other best intentions to live slower and simpler.
Last weekend I sat down to work on my book manuscript, and I wrote a piece about busyness. Which led to the somewhat awful realisation that I wasn’t living what I was preaching. Far from it.
I’ve been busy. But it’s not the busy you might be imagining. I don’t have to go to work anymore. I don’t have lots of commitments. We haven’t had loads of social outings. But, every single day I’ve made myself busy. And this week – in a sort of out-of-body experience, my brain actually climbed out of my head, onto my shoulder and watched. And here’s what it observed…
It watched as I applied busyness like a band-aid. A band-aid to cover up the things that really needed to be done, the things that really needed to be confronted, and felt. A band-aid to avoid meaningful connection with loved ones. The band-aid of busyness has served as a salve to soothe my soul keeping me from accomplishing and moving forward.
Busy has been my excuse and my vice for many many years. And even though I feel like I officially jumped on the slow and intentional bandwagon a few years ago, the journey is hard, with a million and one pot holes. I am constantly fighting the urge to apply busyness again in order to avoid my feelings.
So this is it. This is the real me. Battling the busy – again.
I can feel the holiday driven anxiety beginning to build. Because we are renting our house out this year and moving out for a month I feel as though I have a million and one things to do. But rather than sit down and write a list of the more likely 58 things I have to do I’ve just kept ‘busy’. I’ve tackled the daily chores, I’ve cruised social media, I’ve fussed around with making the house look pretty, I’ve checked social media, I’ve exercised, I’ve baked – oh how I’ve baked.
But my busyness has had one goal – avoidance.
I’m desperately wanting to avoid things. Hard things. Like the fact that I actually do have to tackle getting our house ready to move out and rent. People have paid deposits. It’s non-negotiable. But yet I dither, I avoid the list making, the calendar checking, the cleaning that desperately needs to happen. I’m avoiding it because I know that these next few months will be a busy season for us (although if I play my cards right I will be able to enjoy lots of slow and simple during this time too).
I’m avoiding things like the fact it will be our first Christmas without my mother-in-law. We have to go it alone and it’s uncharted territory. It’s not just the fact that she was the glue that kept the five siblings, their partners and children together, it’s the fact that she knew HOW to do Christmas, and do it well. I don’t. And I don’t want to (stomping my foot like a toddler). So I want to be busy to avoid that big fat gaping hole that she’s left.
But – here’s the crazy thing – I’m avoiding these things – this busyness, and replacing it with more busyness. That awful kind of mindless, unintentional busy where you just go from one thing to the next without a plan or destination in mind.
And if I do it – this awful kind of busy – then I’m sure I’m not the only one. So what can we do? How can we step out of this kind of busy and step into intentional living where even if we are busy we know it’s for a purpose and a season.
Busyness has had such a bad rap recently. Those of us feeling called to a slower and simpler way of living all but curse busy. We write and speak about how bad busy is, how detrimental it is to our souls. But not all busyness is bad. Sometimes we need to be busy to achieve something. And sometimes we just need to be a different kind of busy. The kind of busy that has intention, and allows space to feel and connect along the way.
Here are three ways you can explore your busyness today:
- Just simply notice how you feel when you are busy. Are you enjoying it or hating it? Are you busy for the sake of being busy? The kind of busy that happens when you are avoiding and procrastinating? Noticing how you feel is the first step to changing your behavior.
- If you feel too busy take five minutes to look at this weeks calendar and choose two things to delete. Don’t make excuses and don’t tell fibs – even to yourself. You have a right to slow down if that’s what you want. And you absolutely have a right to sanity. Call your friend and cancel coffee. Hold off on Christmas shopping for one more week. Decide not to attend the baby shower, kid’s birthday party or yoga session.
- Take a few minutes to read and think about the concept of tilting that Brooke from Slow Your Home has so eloquently written about. This concept accepts that we will have times of our weeks, months, and years that we will need to purposefully tilt into being busy in one area of our life.
And one last thing….
Give yourself an extra large dose of grace this week. You deserve it!