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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.

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