Addicted to busy

Businessman multitasking

I’ve read a number of pieces recently that speak to the “glorification of busy”, such as…

Let’s Stop the Glorification of Busy – Melissa Ramos

and…

Let’s Stop the Glorification of Busy – Guy Kawasaki

I wholeheartedly concur.  I admit I am guilty.  Guilty as a dog with the “Who, me?” eyes, licking its chops next to the turkey carcass.

I have played the “I’m so busy!” card at times, and I have had it played at me.  A typical example is when I speak with a friend and realize I had not been in contact for weeks.

Busy can be a cop-out, a lame effort at an excuse for not being available.  “Oh yeah, meant to call you, but work has been super stressful!”  “I would love to have lunch with you, but this week is crazy busy!”  Well, yes and no… let’s assume I went ahead and ate lunch and, even if at my desk, probably browsed the internet while I scarfed my food.  Can I say in 100% honesty I didn’t have 30 minutes or so to meet that friend and share some conversation?

Busy can also be a form of bragging, right?  What we are really saying is “I’m busier than you!  Look at all the cool stuff I do!”  The dangerous subtext is, “I am overcompensating for other shitty areas of my life by staying so ridiculously busy that I at least temporarily forget about my troubles.”  And yes, that can feel like a good thing…  I find it increasingly bothersome that we all seem to be competing to impress each other with how amazingly fulfilling our lives are.  So amazing that it’s a drug.

Am I addicted to Busy?  Maybe, and I’m on a slippery slope…

I do advocate being active, going places, trying new things, and getting out of my comfort zone.  I am not suggesting that anyone stop having wonderful experiences.  I am advising myself (and yes, you the reader, if you have come this far with me) to continue to work on balancing time and your personal hierarchy of needs, slowing things down a bit, and avoiding being too busy for friends and family.

Sometimes we really lack the time to do all the things we would like to do, that is true.

But that’s the point:  we all know life is about choices, or the lack thereof.  Do we realize, however, as we utter the “busy” line that we are setting priorities and sending messages?

By choosing activity X with friend Y, on the basis of how fun it is, we may inadvertently send the message to friend Z that they are not important or exciting enough.  It’s virtually unavoidable and nothing personal, but it happens.

Can we admit, or is it too painful, that we frequently prioritize our work and activities over simple, spontaneous face-time with friends?  It’s beneficial to be mindful and aware of each of our loved ones as we set our schedules.

To be fair, many of the pre-arranged activities are with friends, so it’s not like we are being anti-social.   Let’s give ourselves some credit.

Yet, there is always room for improvement.  To that end, the questions I am asking are:

Does my busy schedule include activities involving friends in a way that allows for quality time, meaning some one-on-one personal interaction and/or conversation that is more than small-talk in passing?

When I do a fun event and post pics on social media, am I doing it in a “Look at me! I’m having more fun than you!” manner, or was the experience truly worth sharing by virtue of being new, fresh, original or highly unusual?  Can I share it in a way that encourages others to try it without making them feel bad if they can’t participate?

Am I over-booking myself, or am I allowing sufficient down time for meditation and reflection?

Am I staying busy to fill some other void?  Am I over-compensating for a shortage of fulfillment in one aspect of my life by biting off more than I can chew in other areas?

Here are the really tough questions, though, at least for me:

  1. How much of my precious, busy schedule would I trade?  For example, would I swap a night going to a big party for a quiet few hours talking meaningfully with one or two intimate friends?
  2. For what would I trade it?  That is really the crux of it…

I want my friends and family to know, in the here and now, that as Busy as I may act or seem, my top priority is YOU.  I will gladly cancel another half marathon, or a solo bike ride, or even my writing time, to hang out with you to take a walk together or share a bottle of wine, or simply to talk.

All you have to do is you reach out and let me know you want me to be with you.  It’s a two-way street.  It may require you to walk across the street and meet in the middle, and damn the traffic.  Because I won’t let you get hit; I’ve got your back.

[Note:  I actually wrote this piece about a year ago.  Not sure why I didn’t publish it.  Maybe I was too busy….]

 

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Update: Bambi Found in Good Condition

Last year I blogged about Bambi:

Bambi, and How Not to Fix Everything…

That remains my favorite piece I have ever written. From a series of small events and interactions, I am very pleased that I connected the dots and tied together several themes central to my personal growth and philosophy which I hope will speak to others.

Little did I know that my tale would take a surprising turn.

In what I consider an incredible stroke of good fortune as well as a colossal example of poor memory on my part (to which I am, for better or worse, somewhat accustomed), Bambi was found.

When I originally wrote the story, I was quite sad with respect to what I thought was the permanent loss of my treasured stuffed animal.  For all I knew, he was stranded on the Island of Misfit Toys.

It wasn’t because I truly needed to have it, but because I have in my possession so few artifacts from my youth.  Bambi simply struck a certain chord, as in Lost Innocence.  I am most definitely not overly sentimental, and I am generally indifferent to material things, but that ancient fossil of a plaything symbolizes what Sentimental Nostalgia I do harbor.

When I happened to tell my ex about the blog, she calmly explained Bambi was with me all along.  I had completely forgotten that years ago my mom (may she rest in peace) had mailed Bambi to me in a box of old, personal belongings I had left behind in my childhood home.  Naturally, Bambi had ended up in a box in a closet.

I was absolutely floored, moved to the point of joyful tears that I had not actually suffered the loss of which my mind had convinced me occurred.  It felt exactly like discovering a long-time friend presumed missing or dead had been returned to life.

I admit I have to laugh at myself the way this sounds, all this to-do about a silly stuffed animal.  However, as is often the case, this is not about the thing itself, but what it represents to me.

The image of a toy deer I found on the internet and used in the original blog post was not too far off.  Following is a current picture of Bambi:

bambi-stuffed-animal_2

Another odd twist is that, seemingly making a complete liar out of me and destroying my entire premise that Bambi was broken, my dear mother had at some point sewn up his compound fracture!  Note the patch on the right front “elbow”.  I don’t know if I ever knew about that, but I probably did and again entirely blotted it out from my pathetic memory; I won’t even try to understand why I did that.

I felt a strange sense of, I don’t know, almost disappointment about the successful surgery to Bambi. Don’t fix people, geez, that’s the point!  But no, I quickly recovered and was simply grateful to have the deer back in good condition.  (In my defense, the full truth is that Bambi defiantly retains and overcomes at least two significant injuries, thus vindicating my assertion that he is damaged, but not beyond hope: the front right lower leg is still crippled, and his neck is weak and wobbly.  He remains stoic and pain tolerant.)

In another A-Ha Moment, I discovered that Bambi symbolizes even more than I previously realized.  In a way, I am Bambi.

Last year, at least in my mind, Bambi was lost and in shambles.  Simultaneously, I was most definitely torn apart yet recovering.  Bambi sat in a box, a medical tent, for years and years and somehow emerged healthy.  Meanwhile, I have spent the better part of the past two years in my box of an apartment, convalescing and growing stronger every day.  Today, the deer is safe and sound, and I feel healed, whole, and Closer to Fine.

With the help of wonderful friends and family, and through patience and self-awareness, I have persisted and endured in my journey without constantly trying to fix myself, but rather giving myself space and time.  I am joyful that one small reward came to me in the form of an unassuming, beloved toy which has taught an important lesson about myself.

 

 

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Wait Up

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How many times have I met another runner who conveys the message to me that they feel slow, that I should not wait up? Yet, I prefer to wait up! I am willing to go their pace, because I would rather share the path closely with another soul.

Often, for me it’s not about the running. It’s not because I’m lonely or can’t run by myself. It’s just a matter of priorities. I value the connection with that person at that moment.

Yes, sometimes I admit I wish someone would convey that they are waiting up for me, that they are consciously deciding to prioritize me and share a path with me.

The flip side is that for the first time in my adult life I am realizing what it feels like to truly enjoy being by myself. However, I had to go through so much to get here, so many times when someone figuratively would not “wait up” when I hoped they would.

What this means is that I learned that when no one is choosing me, I can choose myself!

 

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Checking in on my neglected blog

I have experienced writer’s block for months, primarily due to stress in my work and personal life.

The good news is that my writing and creativity are sparking again.  I am using a hand-written journal, not publishing all my thoughts, but there it is.

July has been really good for me so far.  July 1st was of course literally the new half-year.  The first half of 2015 was rough.  Things are far from smooth, but the are trending upward.

It’s as if I need to go through some very challenging seas and clear the decks for the new voyage that is about to begin.

One unusual aspect of this awakening is that, although my writing is often accompanied by an emotional roller coaster, today in this moment I feel stable, confident, and at peace while also feeling more of my typical optimism — not flighty or giddy, but sure-footed.

I attribute this in part to great support from good friends.  They know who they are, and perhaps they may be tired of hearing my stuff, but if so they haven’t let on, and they are there when I need them.  In return, I endeavor to be there for them, and I think I have been largely successful in doing so.

I also credit my good health and high energy, which together allow me to continue being active and athletic.  Volunteer work, hiking, cycling, running, and other workouts release stress, burn extra sugar, create opportunities for fun social activity, and thus improve my mood and outlook.

Writing about all of this gets myself out of my own head and allows me to turn my attention outward toward being with and helping others.  Less thought, more action, is good for me.

Without friends, exercise, and creativity, I don’t know where I would be.

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Bambi, and How Not to Fix Everything…

I have a friend who, like most of us, at times feels anxious, depressed, and crazy.  Recently, I received a text, a cry for help, in the wee hours of the morning.

I don’t know anyone who isn’t damaged or broken to some extent.

One natural response when we experience such feelings is to ask, “Why is this happening to me?  Why do I feel this way?”

Because we want to FIX it.  Diagnose, dissect, determine, and decide what to do.

Even worse, we want to fix others, even when not asked.

I do that sometimes, too.  I’m a problem solver in my brain.

I was sharing the situation about the first friend with another friend – not for advice or solutions, but rather to observe and describe.

The second friend found this on Facebook:

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Exactly.

Going against the grain of my brain, I am evolving and learning how NOT to problem-solve.  I am compassionate and empathetic at HEART, and more and more I am trusting and following my heart.

Now, my heart simply wants to give care and support, without judgment.

Coincidentally, yet a third friend (yeah, huh, I really do have as many as three!) randomly shared a text that said “Aggle flaggle!”

I’m not afraid to admit that my response was something along the lines of “WTF?!”

“Aggle flaggle”, I learned, is an expression used by Trixie, a young girl who is a character in the Knuffle Bunny series of books by Mo Willems, and Knuffle Bunny is her favorite toy companion.

At this point, I must also admit that Knuffle Bunny in and of itself has little to do with this blog post of mine, except that Knuffle Bunny, the stuffed animal, reminded me of my favorite stuffed animals from my very young years.

I truly wish I still had one of them in particular, or at least a picture of it.

I called it “Bambi”.  To this day, I’ve never seen another stuffed animal that went for the authentic young DEER look.  What I mean is, it wasn’t anthropomorphic (think of Arthur the Aardvark) or overly cutesy like many animal toys (think Ty Beanie Babies, with all due respect, because I love those, too).  Bambi was very young – no antlers.  He really didn’t look like this (he certainly had no jaunty scarf), but here’s the closest thing I could find on Google Images:

stuffed deer

However, Bambi was a hand-me-down, as were many of my clothes and toys growing up.  I was the fifth of six children successfully birthed by my mother.  We were not poor, but ultimately my dad was on a State salary, and my parents were continually scrimping and saving.  New things were luxuries.

I didn’t really mind.  Used stuff has never really bothered me.

One of my aunts used to give us used books for birthdays and Christmas.  Very cool.  She had even less money than my dad.  She did what she could, and she gave with love.  Still does, bless her heart!

Bambi was not only used; Bambi was damaged and broken.  (Warning:  graphic description of an injury to a stuffed animal forthcoming in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…)  One front leg had a compound fracture.  I mean, seriously:  Bambi’s innards were reinforced with metal “bones”, and one was partially sticking out of the broken leg.  Now now, don’t just say “ewwwww” or “awwwww”… It’s important to see it through the eyes of a child; I’ll get back to this point later…

Not only that, Bambi was missing much of his fur, worn away by years of rough-housing.  No spots.  If he had had a tail, it was long gone.

Where I grew up, we really played like hell.  We threw our stuffed animals around like nobody’s business.  Like Youth itself, we were fearless and immortal and expected our toys to be so as well.

I cannot emphasize enough how much I LOVED Bambi. My older sibling(s) (not sure who exactly played with it and wounded him before he fell to my care) may have named him something else, but my first favorite movie was Disney’s Bambi, from which I learned that first hard lesson about Life and Death, and I was moved to rechristen him after the titular badass character.

I retain even now the impression that yes, at first it bothered me that Bambi was broken.  I distinctly remember using bits of cloth and string or whatever I could find to splint that broken leg.  Like a Wounded Warrior, he was expected to participate as well or better than all the other toys, without complaint.

There was nothing much I could do about the balding. I believe that’s where I must have grown up a bit and learned about acceptance.  There was  NOTHING I could do about the missing fur.  Hair/fur transplants didn’t really exist yet, as far as I know.  Even if they did, there was no way my parents were going to spring for that procedure for Bambi.  Hell, my dad was balding, and apart from embarrassing, futile attempts at comb-overs, he had to live with his affliction.  (As I do now; no comb-overs.  But I digress…)

As the years went by, I stopped trying to apply medical care to Bambi’s leg.  On the contrary, I was proud of that unabashed, unassuming, flawed deer.

Like our human loved ones, Bambi deserved love.

Acceptance is the first step toward Unconditional Love.

Through the eyes of a child…  As adults, we often let ourselves think of damage as traumatic and something to be fixed as quickly as possible.  That may be fine, but it may also gloss over the stage of Acceptance.

Only by accepting his deformities, fissures, and wear and tear could I continue to play with Bambi.  I am not going out on a limb (pun intended) by saying I believe many other parents and children would have stored him away, at best, or thrown him away, at worst.  Such thoughts never entered my mind.

That’s how I learned.  That’s why I view people as wonderfully flawed, by default – but without judgment. I strive to see the good in others. We are all damaged or broken in some way.  Yet, we remain worthy of Love and Play.

Seeing a disability, scar, or abnormality – physical or emotional – in someone else, if we allow our brain to jump ahead to some sort of fix or solution, we may entirely miss the opportunity to perceive the person in that moment and in their vulnerable yet genuine state.  In short, we may fail to impart Love in the form of Acceptance.

That’s not to say medical care and psychological care are to be avoided.  But it’s a slippery slope.

Often our loved ones are not asking or wanting us to provide treatment.  Professionals are better suited for that.

Most often they need us to LISTEN – again, without judgment.

Let’s endeavor not to react by trying to fix everyone and everything.  Let’s be present with others, be still, be with, and accept them.

Let’s not discard our imperfect friends as we might our broken toys.  Let’s treasure them.

Because at some point, most assuredly and quite soon, we will need tender loving care and support from those same friends.

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Love

Gina, a.k.a. MagicMoon, Half Dome Dancer and my yoga friend, recently posted the following questions on her website, The Unfolding Self …(https://theunfoldingself.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/love-2/):

What is YOUR definition of love, of intimate relationship? How do you define being in relationship? What’s relationship about?

Before I get into that, I’ll create a temporary diversion:

Because I’m going through a divorce and am in somewhat of a Love Stinks phase (not necessarily in a bad or bitter way, just being with it), frankly I was not in the frame of mind to seriously consider Gina’s questions.  Nevertheless, given a bit of distance from Valentine’s Day, some thoughts popped into my head today.  I shared the gist of them with Gina but did not elaborate.  I decided to use my own blog to expound.

My definition of Love is the strong desire to meet the needs of another soul.

Although there are certainly many definitions of Love, and mine is unlikely to resonate with everyone, it works for me on several levels.

Above all, I like it because it encompasses the various types of Love.

Platonic Love, or loving friendship, means wanting to meet another’s needs that have nothing to do with romance or sex.  Thus, friendly Love involves the desire to fulfill another’s need for friendship, community, social interaction, and the sharing of personal thoughts, feelings, opinions, and so forth, perhaps even on a very intimate, detailed level, just not sexually.  I have a number of female friends and family members with whom I share mutual conveyance of love with no romantic notions (and I have to poke fun at my own statement by adding, thank goodness for the lack of romance with my family members! ha ha, ahem)…  We do actually tell each other “I love you” on a regular basis.

For example, I love my friend Gina, and I know this and tell her so because I have the desire to help fulfill her need for Community by spending time with her and our mutual friends in our Tree House circle. 🙂  Also, when she wishes to share personal thoughts and wants feedback from her friends, I like and want to do so, because we have a bond of friendship, and she matters to me as a person.  I receive back much positive energy and validation from her, so it’s mutually beneficial.  Although it’s not necessary for me to receive all that energy back, I enjoy it and thrive upon it.

People typically think about Love in the context of human significant others; however, Platonic Love can actually encompass love of a pet, a tree or a plant, or really anything at all.  For example, we love a dog when we have the desire to meet its nutritional needs by feeding it, its physiological needs by walking it, and its need for fun by throwing a ball around and playing with it.  We love a plant when we water and fertilize it.  Thus, Platonic Love is very wide ranging and significant and has many applications in our daily life.

One helpful way of looking at Love is considering what it is NOT.  Love is not Like, or simply a strong Like.  The way I view Like is that it has to do with shared interests and preferences.  That’s why one can Like a friend without really loving him or her.  Two people may enjoy going out to a movie, getting drinks, or playing a sport or game together, but when it comes right down to it, they need not necessarily strongly desire or need the other person to be there at all.  This is especially true in larger social groups.  We may honestly feel that we Like each and every person’s company in the context of a given social activity, but the fact is that there are enough members in the group to fulfill our need for community whether everyone in the group participates or not.  Again, Love includes the feeling that we strongly desire the company of another soul doing the activity, because we want to meet their specific need for companionship in doing so, not simply be there with whoever shows up.

Romantic Love seems much more complicated, and I believe it can be so for many people, yet intellectually it’s a simple enough concept.  Romantic Love includes the desire to fulfill another’s sexual needs.  The problem is that Romantic Love is NOT an intellectual exercise, but rather an emotionally charged one.

In the context of Romantic Love, it’s important to distinguish between Love and Lust.  Lust is the desire for sex, but it need not necessarily include the desire to pleasure a sexual partner — it may solely involve the desire to achieve pleasure only for oneself.  That’s why one sexual partner may Romantically Love another yet be confused and hurt when Love is not returned; the second partner may simply want sex without intimacy, attachment, or commitment or even care for that first partner feels satisfied or fulfilled.

Unrequited Love means that we want to meet another’s romantic/sexual needs, but the object of our affection has no desire to fulfill our needs in that way.  This happens a lot.  The other soul may only Like us, or may actually, platonically Love us, but not in a romantic way.  This usually leads to the other placing you in the “friend zone”, or being dumped or let go entirely, and of course that can be very painful for the Dumpee.

Romantic Love gets especially complicated is when there is a mismatch or imbalance between one person’s feelings and the other person’s feelings.  One person may be confused or not fully in touch with his own feeling, such that he may think but is not even sure whether he loves his romantic partner.  Or, he may lie and proclaim Romantic Love for a partner when he actually feels Lust or Like.  Such imbalances are quite common, and I would go so far as to contend they are so prevalent that they consume the majority of people’s thoughts and energies when they feel as though something is not quite right or fulfilling enough about their significant other relationships.  That’s because when two people both feel and believe in a strong sense of each other’s Romantic Love, they enjoy True Love and Trust and all those wonderful things, so much so that they don’t even have to think about it or discuss it.  Whereas, so many people seem to have unhappy or unfulfilled relationships, and we tend to hear all about those problems when we talk intimately with our friends and confidantes.

Returning to the difference between Love and Like, this explains why we can romantically Love another soul without actually liking them.  We may wish to satisfy their sexual needs yet share no real interest in the the other things they like to do or their cultural, vocational, or social preferences.  In other words, we may Love the sex but not Like their personality.

Unconditional Love means the desire to meet another’s needs without expecting anything in return.  One may hope for something in return without expecting it, and it’s not invalid to do so, although hope can easily morph into something more.

With respect to my definition of Relationship,  to me that means sharing sex & intimacy, and it usually connotes at least the belief that two people are seeing each other exclusively. (Obviously, we all have “relationships” of all types, such as parent-child relationships, etc., but I’m setting those aside for purposes of this post and focusing on “romantic”, significant-other relationships.) However, relationships are such a broad topic that I will revisit that topic in a follow-up post…

It’s very beneficial and useful to consider and meditate about what type of Love we feel towards the various people in our lives whom we consider important.  Specifically, we can examine which needs of others we want and are trying to meet and fulfill, which needs of our own they may be fulfilling, and whether or not there are serious imbalances. between our feelings of Love and theirs.  Furthermore, we may identify mismatches between what we think their needs are versus what they would say their needs are.  Love is a powerful form of energy, and it is so powerful that we need to be aware of why, how, and to whom we are directing such energy and whether or not is is perceived and accepted in the form and intent with which it is given.

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Be Your Own Action Hero

Be your own favorite author.  Be your own action hero.

* * * * * * *

action hero

Some blogs wouldn’t want to publish this.  I love Rebelle Society and other gardens, and I grow weary of them.

I want to plead with you to grow your own wisdom and forge your own manifesto.

You’re so much more, in and of yourself, than a pithy quote, a nature pic, and an internet meme.  You learn from these, but you’re capable of inventing them!

It’s symbiotic.

We build upon and grow from others, and at the same time we find our voice, and we give back, and we share our own perspective.

When will we cut loose the tethers?  Should we?

If we set out sailing, need we leave all else behind?

Or, can we absorb it all, take it all with us in spirit, as we set forth? Bravely.

Acknowledging those who nurtured and supported, yet surpassing same in our own excellence.

For you are, in every sense, excellent!

Accept it, without fear or doubt.

You expound, you inspire, you motivate.

Above all, you DO!

I read dozens, maybe hundreds, of marvelous, amazing deep thoughts each day.  I aspire to create my own adventure.  Not to invalidate or in any way belittle others, but rather to Live it, to Be it, to Own it.

I love to read great writing, but I want to write.

It’s like cycling.  I would rather be out riding than watch the Tour de France, even if I am half as fast as them.

At some point, we have to fish or cut bait.

So, please please please set aside time away from scrolling and browsing to compose.  Be your own author.

And before you draft, do something worth describing.  Be your own action hero.

Keep harvesting Rebelle, all you rebels, but don’t forget why you are here.

You’re unique, you’re awesome, and your own story is every bit as epic and worthy.

You may find yourself, strangely, with less time to read because you are engaged in the moment and LIVING.

* * * * * * *

I know everything, and I know nothing.  I’m an old soul, yet I am a child born yesterday.

 

 

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