Archive | November, 2008

Keeping Busy Keeps You From…You

21 Nov




Well, the holiday season is upon us, and it offers a terrific opportunity to overextend ourselves and be excessively busy.  And let me tell you, I love being excessively busy – it allows me to base my worth entirely on outer accomplishments instead of say, any internal sense of self, and feel like a valuable, productive member of society, while simultaneously avoiding deeper, often problematic, issues that I need to address.  And if I am really doing the overworking, overcommitted thing right, I can feel justified in blaming others for my exhaustion, because I am just too darn busy to see the part I am playing in my own depletion.  It’s like one-stop holiday shopping.



This past summer, I had a dream-come-true moment when I checked my email one Saturday and, out-of-the-blue, was greeted by an email from a television producer of a talk show.  She had randomly come across my blog and wanted to invite me to appear on her show.  The show was taping only a few days later on Wednesday, so I immediately got very busy preparing for the topic, and worrying.  We corresponded back and forth, and as of Tuesday afternoon it was still up in the air and I was not confirmed yet for the next day.  This is when I went into busy overdrive.  I had so much to do!  I wasn’t sure if I would have to take the day off work the next day so I was busily trying to get everything done that had to get done for my job.  And then there was the issue of my hair, which was not camera ready!  I had tried to get an appointment at my salon but it was booked for that night, so my plan was to race out of work a little early and run to the salon where I would explain my urgent situation and beg them to fit me in.  Then, I would hopefully be done on time to rush home and make it to the nail salon for a frantic mani/pedi before they closed.  And finally, I would dash home and prep some more for the show’s topic. 


At around 4pm on Tuesday, the producers told me that it turned out that they weren’t going to have a slot for me on the show.  For the past few days, my heart had been racing and my thoughts had been spinning a mile a minute, and now they all came to an abrupt halt.  Suddenly feeling a little aimless, I wandered into a co-workers office and told her that I had planned to be frantically busy and angst-ing that night, and now that I no longer had to prepare my hair and my thoughts for the show, I had no idea what I was going to do with myself.


It was one of those perfect, dewy, deliciously warm summer evenings, and I did not want to be alone.  Even though I don’t drink much, it was an ideal night to be sitting at an outside table of a bar or cafe sipping an ice cold beer or frozen margarita.  Walking home from the subway, desperation started to sink in about my free time that night, and I called two friends to see if they could do the sit outside/drink cold beverages thing last minute, but both were busy.  So it was just going to be me, alone and unbusy.


Now, I love spending time alone and can spend lots of time by myself without feeling lonely.  Except.  Here’s my trick.  I am usually alone but very very busy doing something.  So it is hard for me to be by myself, sit still, and do absolutely nothing.  And on that night, I really did not want to do that.


I decided to go to the park to sit on a bench and read, and my agitation built.  Then I walked around my neighborhood looking for a place to eat dinner, but I still felt so uncomfortable.  I was trying to outrun this feeling, but as I was forced to slow down, an overwhelming sadness bubbled up from within me.  And with it, came all those feelings and realizations I can avoid when I am racing around being busy.  Like, I wasn’t particularly happy that I was single.  Like, I wanted my apartment to feel more like a sanctuary, and nurturing, but I didn’t have the time or energy to put any attention or focus on this.  Like, I had been isolating myself and was lonely, and craved closer connections and friendships with others.  Like, these are all things that I could address and change, but I would have to actually do something to make that happen.  And I was just too busy, which created a “legitimate” excuse for avoiding making the positive changes in my life that I desired.


Keeping both physically busy with tasks, commitments, and obligations, and mentally busy with racing thoughts and worries, keeps you far far away from…You.  It keeps you from acknowledging what is not working, and/or what is upsetting in your life.  While this method can temporarily help you avoid pain and sadness, in the longrun, you need to unearth these thoughts, feelings, and emotions and bring them into your conscious awareness in order to address them.  These uncomfortable and often painful feelings hold the keys to what it is that you need to adjust or change in your life, and experiencing them is the first step in making the mental shifts and taking the positive actions that will lead you back to your true dreams and desires, and the creation of a life that really does work for you, and brings you happiness and fulfillment, in times of busy-ness, as well as during peaceful times of rest.


This holiday season, amidst commitments, obligations, To Do lists, and stress, make sure to pro-actively take some time out to get back to You.  Block off time on your calendar and make a date with yourself to be un-busy, whatever that means to you.  The important thing here is to: 1) Be unproductive and 2) Slow down from your normal routine and pace.  So…take a leisurely stroll or sit in meditation or lounge around your home listening to your most favorite-est music or spend a day curled up in a cushy chair at that neighborhood coffee shop you love and…see what bubbles up for you.  Bring your notebook and write it down.  What is lacking in your life?  Where are things going awry, and heading off-track from what you truly desire?  What could you give to yourself, what mental shifts could you make, or what actions could you take to address this, and get things back on track?  Being unbusy will allow these pushed back thoughts and feelings some time and space to surface.  And on the flip side of the pain or discomfort they may bring, lies invaluable guidance that will help you recalibrate your life to more truly reflect your desires and needs, and will reunite you with…You.


Wishing you a gratitude-filled Thanksgiving next week, and a joyful, luminous, un-busy holiday season!


Lots of love!


Jen xoxo


If you’d like to share your favorite ways to be blissfully un-busy, or your experiences with excessive busy-ness, post a comment!


Copyright © 2008 by Jennifer Garam