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Are You Hiding in Your Busy? (I was.)

by Elise Museles

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I’m dreaming of big, big plans for my summer.

What kind of big plans?

Long afternoons spent on the deck, nibbling on a watermelon popsicle or sipping on a strawberry shortcake smoothie.
Reading a real book that isn’t non-fiction (or self-help!).
Saturdays devoted to Cadence and Monty and one very, very long game of fetch.
Sundays by the pool with my guys firing up the grill and serving giant platters of simple grilled veggies.

All of this is to say I’m dreaming of big plans to make no plans this summer.

Summer is a season for taking in sunsets and taking the scenic route. It’s a season of lingering and breathing deeply. It’s the season for slowing down–way down.

While sunsets and deep breathing seem like things that would be right up my alley, slowing down hasn’t always been easy for me. I relish in the busy…and I like it that way. But lately, I’ve started to question why so many of us (myself included) fill our lives with busy.

Of course there are times when we really can’t control our busyness–big projects, looming deadlines, change of life events. We have full lives and that’s to be expected.

The busy I am referring to is the self-created busy where we overschedule and overcommit ourselves. The kind of busy that doesn’t allow for breathing room or spaciousness in our day. The kind of busy where we feel stressed by our Busyness. The kind of busy where we become a human doing instead of a human being.

Why has this busy that we can actually control become the new normal?

I was recently thinking back to when I first started a life of Busyness:

I began my career not as a nutrition and eating psychology coach, but as an immigration attorney. I worked for years until my second son was born; I transitioned from full-time attorney to part-time to eventually taking time off to be with my two very busy and active boys.

But instead of using some of this time to pause, breathe, mentally prepare for a huge shift in my life, I filled my life to overflowing. I laced up my running shoes and signed up for every marathon I could find. I ran and ran and ran. I filled my calendar with lunches and classes and projects for them and for me. I did everything I could to replicate the overstuffed, busy life I’d lived while working at The Department of Justice.

Why? Because it was easier to be busy than it was to face my fears about being a full-time mom.

What if I don’t like this? How will I deal with telling people what I do? Will this affect my marriage? These thoughts would cycle through my mind as I penciled another race into my calendar or signed up for another class.

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I used Busy to keep my life (and fears) at arm’s length. 

And I suspect I’m not the only one.

Everywhere I look, I see people wearing ‘Busy’ as a badge of honor, evidence of cool. And I get it!

Busy feels successful (“Look at all my projects and clients!”)
It feels popular (“My calendar is filled because everyone likes me!”)
It feels important (“Everyone wants my help and insight!”)

But in reality, busy is none of the above. It’s a trap that keeps us outside of our lives instead of in them, chasing a day when our to-do list is finally finished and we can really do what we want. It can even be a crutch or a tool to help us avoid facing our fears… facing ourselves.

So let me ask you a few questions about your version of busy:

Are you really, actually living your life? Or are you scheduling it and busy-ing it away?

Are you staying busy to keep your mind off the things you know you should be thinking about?

I’m well aware that the answers here can be uncomfortable because I’ve been there too. It’s okay to be fearful of what we might realize in the stillness, be still anyway. Once you learn to face your fears and slow down, you’ll never look back. Your life will still feel full, but it will feel full of peace, joy, and calm happiness rather than frenzied dashing from place to place.

So let’s make a pact. This summer, let’s glorify slow and intentional instead of busy. Let’s leave lots of wiggle room in our calendars; plenty of space to stretch and think and engage with our lives and the people we love. Let’s practice being in the pause.

And if you find yourself slightly unnerved by all this free time to think and do and be, be brave enough to ask yourself, “What am I afraid of? How am I hiding behind my Busy?

Your to-do list can wait. Your real life is waiting.

In the comments, I’d love to know if you’ll join me this summer by slowing way down? What are your plans to release some of your Busy? Let’s inspire one another.

15 Responses to Are You Hiding in Your Busy? (I was.)

  1. Meredith June 25, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    Elise! Thank you for another thoughtful post. I am inspired to slow down and banish the busy- hard to do- but happy for a glorious and slow summer. Cheers!

    • Elise Museles June 25, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

      Meredith, thank you for sharing your enthusiasm. Let’s try together. It is hard, but we can… xo

  2. Amy June 25, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

    Such a beautiful reminder! I love your post. Slowing down one really does get to experience the richness of what this lifetime has to offer. Like the old saying goes “stop and smell the roses!”

    • Elise Museles June 25, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

      Amy, so true that we miss it when we don’t stop to smell the roses. So glad that the post resonated with you. Thanks for sharing your wisdom here. xo

  3. Willy Mathes June 25, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    Once again, Elise, I’m deeply moved by your writing. This soul-searching, honest expression inspires me–a 40-year meditator–to reevaluate how busy I’ve been making my life… and why! Thanks so much for sharing this bit of heartfelt insight with us. It reminds me of what John Lennon wrote: “Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans.” Cheers, Willy

    • Elise Museles June 26, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

      Willy, you hit the nail on the head with the question of “why.” The John Lennon quote is perfect. Thank YOU for your thoughtful and inspiring comment.

  4. Marla Bozic June 25, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    I love this Elise. Thanks for calling us all out on this crazy busy phenomenon we have going on today. I live in Australia, and its winter, but i’ll take the message and slow down anyway:). Thanks for your wisdom!

    • Elise Museles June 26, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

      Hi Marla from Australia! Winter might even be a more natural time to get cozy and slow down. Glad that you’ll take the message anyway! xo

  5. Kelly June 25, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    I so needed this today. For a year I have been miserable in my corporate America job – resenting the “expectations” that are placed and every year seem to get greater. As a part time yoga teacher, I resented the corporate job that paid my bills from adding stress to my life and often times taking me out of town and needing to find subs for my classes (that in reality didn’t really bring in any net income after all the trainings, insurance and music expense)…but its where I felt most at peace…most able to be my true self. I think. I wanted time off to breathe…to get to know and even discover my true self so I can find what I am really meant to do. Although I am having major anxiety over the financial aspects of no longer being a major contributor to the household, I hope this summer I can learn to be ok with being “unbusy” so that I can move to the next chapter of my life.
    Thanks again!

    • Elise Museles June 26, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

      Kelly, thank you so much for sharing here. I hope this summer of being still helps bring some calm and clarity as you start the next (exciting) chapter of your life. Wishing you all the best. xxx

  6. Lily June 26, 2015 at 2:04 am #

    Great post, Elise. Staying “busy” can be such a crutch! It’s almost like procrastination in the opposite extreme.

  7. Mui June 29, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

    Thank you for this timely reminder to slow time and live life intentionally. I was just lamenting how we as a family are always busy. I actually cut short my lawn-mowing today to make dinner earlier than usual so that we could eat out while the sun was still out and it was still warm. So glad we did that. I felt so much more connected with my family afterwards.

    • Elise Museles July 23, 2015 at 3:00 am #

      Mui, it’s so true that it doesn’t take much when you slow down and become intentional. I hope your summer is filled with lots of time spent connecting with your family. xo

  8. Reena July 23, 2015 at 2:44 am #

    I was just thinking about the trap of busy-ness in relation to meditation. Generally I am pretty good at following through on my dreams/plans, but starting a meditation practice is one thing I have said I would do for years and have never followed through. I realized, after a webinar on procrastination by the awesome James Clear I realized that it was incongruous with everything else in my life that I had been stalling on this – but it is exactly what you said: I realize now that I am afraid of that stillness and what it might hold. Just knowing that is what is allowing me to finally make some progress (baby steps) in that direction. It’s scary to be still when life has pushed me to be busier and busier. But I know that cultivating that stillness is exactly what will move me forward in even more profound ways.

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