Yesterday I read a blog post Carla Birnberg wrote. It was titled “Ending the Glorification of Being Busy“. How timely her post was! For whatever reason, I have been talking about the Art of NOT being Busy to many. From hearing girlfriends confide in how busy they are, to the other angle of my Mom and I discussing the joy we feel when simply playing with the girls at home. It seems like lately the topic has come up much more than others.
It could be because of spring sports; longer days so more time to fill. People have amped work schedules, Spring holiday travels or just because everyone is busy. What’s funny is we live in the middle of the Bay Area, one of the “busiest” places in the country (we are literally across the Bay from San Francisco), and I try to keep our life not feeling to busy. Sure I have my check- off lists, 3 kids and a business…but life feels simply good and enjoyable. It doesn’t feel chaotic how some women describe their every day. Why? Because we have been there and made some significant changes.
Six years ago, when I had Emerson, I owned a big stroller fitness business, taught stroller fitness and boot camp classes daily, had a team of 8 instructors, was on the Corporate Team for the stroller fitness company, did Fitness TV segments for Better, had my kids enrolled in fun “activities” and was a Work-At-Home-Mom. I was much to BUSY, but I loved what I did and couldn’t say “no”. Then, Emerson got sick. Horribly, we almost lost her type sick. When she was hospitalized my Dad was emergency hospitalized with a new heart condition. At that time I was torn between my Dad and my baby. I didn’t want to be BUSY at all. I wanted someone else to run my businesses since I only wanted to focus on them.
Once home from the hospital and they were both healing, I had a huge cryfest and broke down. I remember sitting in the kitchen, back up against the cabinets and shaking.
I said to Jack,
“I can’t be busy like this anymore. No more. I want to focus on less- so I can focus even more on my family. I want to live simpler and do less. I don’t care if I sell it all, but I just want to be able to FEEL present and not like I should be doing 1,000 things when I am with the girls. I love helping others with exercise. I love my business and boot campers, but I hate the rushing feeling. The feeling that I can’t keep up with it all. That makes me want to put the girls in the double jogger and take off for the trails for hours.”
That cry began the change. Summer 2008. I had grown so much and accomplished huge goals, both personally and professionally, but I knew it was time to step back. First, I downsized my stroller fitness business and then I sold the whole stroller fitness business. I resigned from the Corporate Team, changed some of the writing assignments and halted doing some media work. By October 2009, I only owned Power Fitness PDX Boot Camps and Workshops. Once in a good groove, we relocated December 30th, 2009, to the uber busy Bay Area.
Perfect time to renew again and re-train how to achieve the “less busy” mantra.
Once living in Alameda, the car was used minimally. I ran everywhere with Emerson, walked everywhere with the girls and re-launched Power Fitness PDX boot camps. A column in Alameda Magazine, fitness writing and presenting completed my work balance. The girls were watched by Grandparents and then a Nanny, but only 2x/week. The balance worked for us. If I said yes to more work, than it meant yes to more busy days. In Summer, it became true Camp of Mom. Days full of pool time, playing, making doll beds and going to the park. A few weeks of chosen Summer Camp, but it was all about the fun. Adventure Days to Monterey Bay Aquarium, the De Young, Golden Gate Park or just taking the Ferry to San Francisco and riding bikes. Some weeks of course busier than others, as I tried to work with deadlines. That’s the usual Mom-Work-Juggle. But we decided we could do it.
We could live on less in order to be more at peace.
Don’t get me wrong. We had FUN in Portland- it is our Heart City. I thrived on what I did professionally and what we did for fun personally. But we were also busy in Portland; constantly working and leading new projects.
Now we are much happier, since we are able to ENJOY all the fun activities, events, races and trips by being PRESENT.
Fall 2010, Makenzie faced her life threatening conditions. A tail spin happened. Our daughter’s body was breaking down in front of our eyes and all we had to do was be there and BE PRESENT. To be open to every moment and what it brought. I was grateful at that time what I had already learned, and had been practicing. Living less busy allowed us to stop everything.
A reality check, yet again, reminding us what is important.
What is KEY, for everyone, is to keep up with what we learn in trying times. We learn that being busy doesn’t make you a better person. It doesn’t make you a more advantageous parent, a better employee, better friend, daughter, spouse or better business owner. It makes for a feeling of overwhelm for many, which can lead to dissapointment. We learn that we have ONE life to enjoy. For some people, they need to feel busy for the recognition and the sense of accomplishment it gives them. I am not one of them.
Some means we’ve incorporated into our lives to feel less busy:
- Bike or walk commute. Using your body from point A to point B allows the endorphins to kick in, and you have to plan the time so you can’r frantically rush.
- Have one weekend day with no technology at all.
- Turn OFF your phone certain hours of the day.
- Don’t be to busy for friends- they are your support network and want to PLAY with you!
- Exercise daily. Get up and at ‘em first thing in the morning. You are NOT TO BUSY to exercise.
- Put your smart phone on Airplane Mode at night time. You can then use the camera and music options, but you can’t access email and phone.
- Aim for one activity after school each day. * Yes I know with more kids that is hard since there are more pick up/drop off logistics, but it leads to a more peaceful afternoon.
- Plan ADVENTURE DAYS! Get out of your routine and have fun outside away from everything! Not fun with mind wandering, thinking about your next FB or IG post, but phone tucked away fun.
- Practice what you preach. If you tell other people to “Stop and smell the roses”, you do the same. Often we are kinder with others than ourselves; listen to how you encourage friends to enjoy their days.
- Eat outside- in your yard, in a park, at the beach. Being present with Nature helps one feel less busy.
- Plan for the week- look ahead and map out what needs to be done so you’re not blindsided by the unexpected.
- Prep meals, do grocery shopping on the weekends or Mondays.
- Say I LOVE YOU to all you love, HUG LONGER with your strong arms, LAUGH LOUDER ..since you can!
As I read that, this poem and photo came into my email. Yet, another reminder to all of is.
Slow down mummy, there is no need to rush,
slow down mummy, what is all the fuss?
Slow down mummy, make yourself a cup tea.
Slow down mummy, come and spend some time with me.
Slow down mummy, let’s put our boots on and go out for a walk,
let’s kick at piles of leaves, and smile and laugh and talk.
Slow down mummy, you look ever so tired,
come sit and snuggle under the duvet and rest with me a while.
Slow down mummy, those dirty dishes can wait,
slow down mummy, let’s have some fun, let’s bake a cake!
Slow down mummy I know you work a lot,
but sometimes mummy, its nice when you just stop.
Sit with us a minute,
& listen to our day,
spend a cherished moment,
because our childhood is not here to stay!
* Carla often speaks to my own thoughts, and I am grateful she’s gotten to be a friend. I encourage you to follow her blog if you aren’t already. CarlaBirnberg.com