If you listen closely this week, you will notice how frequently we talk about being busy. Often when asked, “how was your week?” we respond “busy” unsure where this response fits into in the good vs. bad dichotomy. Sure, it is a bit ironic that on my first week of vacation since the summer break I am writing about being busy. This week I am not busy. In fact, this week I am intentionally not busy.
About 3.5 years ago my move from Memphis, TN to The Woodlands, TX was made to achieve more work-life balance. First and foremost I wanted to live closer to my sister and her family as I recognized this was key to my happiness. Next, I wanted a job where I no longer had to balance teaching, advising for the yearbook, and serving as the head track and field coach. Instead, I wanted a teaching position where my core classes became my main priority. More importantly, I wanted to find time for myself beyond work. In other words, I needed to make a move to separate my identity from work.
Last year I heard author Christine Carter discuss her book, The Sweet Spot which directly discusses finding the balance between home and work. (Christine Carter’s Blog) As a working mother she shared her own story of being too busy and how she literally got ill from having too much on her plate. I connected with her story, not because I am a working mother, rather because she explained how badges of honor are given to one another for being able to manage so much. I’ve wondered why we feel the need to do so much? Who are we trying to impress?
Here’s what I’ve learned: I know that I can escape when I am busy. I can avoid hearing my own thoughts about the status of my personal life and I can avoid feelings. I spent years in Memphis not making myself a priority. I was giving and doing in efforts to mask the pain of being alone. Professionally, it worked. I was seen as a dedicated employee and my students and athletes saw some impressive results. But I suffered; I felt stressed, I gained weight, I was unhappy- I was hiding. In the end, it was easy to blame it all on being busy.
To become more engaged in life, one strategy that Carter offered is to find 20-30 minutes to allow your mind to wander. I know daydreaming is something I had stopped doing as an adult and now I find extreme value in this practice. Specifically, I think my most creative moments are when I am disconnected from my phone, television, and computer. When I am not intentional with my thoughts is when my best lesson plans and blog posts pop into my head.
Since my move to Texas I have intentionally become less busy and somehow I accomplish more every day. My days are full with work, workouts, family and friends, but they are rarely overly busy. Busy to me means that I don’t have time for myself and this rarely happens. While I find myself thinking, “what a busy week.” I hope I can still say, “what a full week.”
This week I’ll have a vast amount of time to relax, reflect, and to center myself and I am hopeful that my friends can find time to do the same. I plan on staying in the bath longer than normal, tending to my plants, coloring in my adult coloring book until I am done with an entire page, and binge reading on my Kindle again. Certainly, I won’t hide from life this week and I look forward to it!