The month of July has been busy – busy to the point that I keep making Freudian slips and saying it’s June because I am straight up in denial at how quickly this summer is flying by. The thing is, I’ve been busy with mostly really wonderful things – traveling, attending weddings and anniversary celebrations, throwing parties and organizing social events, filling out applications for volunteering and fellowship programs, working hard at a job that I genuinely like and am thankful for – all really good things.
All really good things, but I’m also been feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. I’ve been waking up at 3am with my brain running a million miles a minute, thinking of the plane tickets I need to buy and the emails I need to send and the fact that my mattress is too short and I should probably buy a new one, and I wonder where I can buy a mattress in San Francisco and should I get one of those hipster Caspar ones and…
Busy, busy busy.
Busy isn’t bad, and again they are mostly really good things I’m busy with, but I’ve been reminded lately that the very real downside of being so busy is that it leaves me feeling disconnected from my own life. When I’m so busy doing and not being I start to feel worn out, scraped down, disconnected – I feel like I’m missing my own life, like I’m skimming the surface and covering a lot of ground, but not going deep and being rooted, having the time to be fully present and actually experience my life. When that starts to happen I know I need to make a change – not overload my schedule, practice saying no to some invitations [really hard for me], build in time to do nothing.
I need to practice being over doing.
I used to think I was 100% an extrovert because I love people – more and more lately I’m realizing that as much as I love people, I also need time alone to recharge, to reflect, to think about the experiences I’ve had. I need time to go deep and not wide. To reflect and not react. To be and not do.
I remember throwing myself a big birthday bash a few years ago. I invited 40 of my closest friends and gathered them all in a house, expecting it to be a fabulous night – and I hated every minute of it. I hated it because I spent the whole night going wide and not deep – talking to each person for 5 minutes then flitting to the next. I wanted to sit down and have a 2 hour heart-to-heart catch up with everyone in that room but I couldn’t – and I felt deeply unsatisfied. Like being starving and presented with a buffet of food, only to be asked to spit out each bite as soon as it passes your lips.
Contrast that with my 30th birthday celebration, when I spent the weekend with my three best friends and one darling baby [my friend’s baby not just some random baby :)] in an AirBnB in San Luis Obispo. We slept in and drank coffee and colored in one of those “calm” adult coloring books. We lounged in our PJs until 10am, passing baby Sadie around like a sweet party favor, blowing raspberries on her tummy to make her giggle. We wandered around the streets of the town we spent so much time in in college, feeling old as we passed college students, reminiscing about Bali’s frozen yogurt and the BBQ sauce at Firestone. It was far and away my favorite birthday, marked by being and not doing.
On Monday I’m flying to Mexico to spend a week with those three best friends and three of my fave kiddos [again, one of their kiddos, not just some random ones] and what I’m looking forward to most is simply being together (with pina coladas in hand which doesn’t hurt ;)).
I’m yearning for long, lazy, uninterrupted conversations, no time pressure that we have to be somewhere – just being together, soaking up the sun, passing sweet baby Teddy around like a party favor [and getting in a great arm workout while we’re at it because that kiddo is heavy!].
Being not doing.
I worry often about how fleeting life is- I feel time’s hot breath on my neck, reminding me that the days are long but the years are short and I feel self imposed pressure to make every moment count – to always say “yes” to experiences and conversations and opportunities because “tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us.”
The thing is, I want to prize quality over quantity. I want to live a life marked by depth, not width. I don’t want the stories people tell at my funeral to be about how many tasks I crossed off my to-do list, the volume of things I accomplished, the accolades I earned . I want the stories to be about how deeply I loved, how I made people feel seen and known and cared for, how present I was.
One of the sayings I cling to is “every no is a yes to something else.” Every time I say “no” to skimping on sleep or exercise or healthy eating, I’m saying yes to more fully enjoying my life because I feel my best. Every time I say “no” to squeezing in one more social commitment, one more fun thing, I say yes to more fully enjoying the ones I’ve already committed to and being fully present.
The people in my life whom I love are the greatest treasures I have and I want to do what you’re supposed to do with treasures – marvel at them, soak them in with awe and wonder. That’s not something you can squeeze in between meetings, or multitask at while responding to email or checking Instagram.
So I’m thankful for a busy month so I can course-correct a bit – to remind myself that saying no is a spiritual discipline, to build in more margin, more time for being and not doing, more time to dwell deeply with the ones I love and thank God for every day I have on this earth to do it.