The Days are Getting Packed Again

I swore I wouldn’t let this happen.

I vowed that once I returned from my travels, I would make sure my days didn’t get too full, so I could focus on the work and spread out the meetings. But alas, the days are filling up and I am faced with running from meeting 1 to meeting 2 and beyond, just to get everyone in.

How does it stop? How can I take back control of the planning? It’s simple. Just do it. And don’t worry about reaction.

Yesterday, I drove to Lansing to speak to a packed ballroom about storytelling as a means for growing business. Then I shared a lovely surprise lunch with a client before driving home. After that, it was a conference call with another client to plan a website, a bit of personal time (just a bit!), chaperoning the middle-school choir concert, attending the middle-school choir concert, and a ballroom dance lesson with my husband.

In between, of course, I fit in client calls and work updates, and smaller tasks I could whip off. Oh, and I walked through the neighborhood to get some fresh air and exercise, decidedly the best decision I made all day.

Ok, ok, it’s my fault I see. Why do it all in one day?

That’s the existential question I can never answer.

On the one hand, why not fill our days so that we don’t waste any moments? On the other hand, why not savor the moments and trust that it will all get done, it will all work out?

Perhaps that’s the existential question.

Today’s another full day: 9:30 meeting, 11:30 interviews, 1:30 meeting, pick up kids at 3:30, ski club meeting with the big boy at 7 pm. I’m making veggie soup now so it’s ready for dinner. Have to buy bread for sandwiches since the loaf we originally got fell to crumbs.

And somewhere in all of it, there’s the work to do. There’s the face time, yes, but also the work. The focused, quiet work.

In his wonderful New York Times blog about busyness pervading our culture, writer Tim Kreider insists that we must not give in to the societal pressures to fill our days crazily as a badge of success. He writes:

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”

Shame on me for falling prey to the pressures so soon after returning from The Best Place on Earth. We go away to find ourselves and come home to forget once more.

It doesn’t have to be this way and by my life, I won’t let it.

So here’s the charge:

Get through the already-scheduled busy day before me and then STOP. Stop scheduling, stop running, stop saying yes blindly because I feel I have to. Start filling in pockets of empty time on my calendar so that I can create. So that I can breathe. So that I can BE.

Because I am so much more mySelf in my travels than I allow myself to be at home, make my daily life a journey and an adventure. Treat meals like the discovery they are in foreign lands, and time like the gift it is when away.

Walk along streets just for the purpose of walking them and duck into museums when they cross my path. Spend time with people and listen to their words. Notice the sun and the air, the sunrise and its inevitable descent, the wind in the trees, the squirrels in the yard.

Yesterday, I must admit, it wasn’t all as packed as I made it sound.

I forgot. I forgot the moments, that I had moments and noticed them and took the time to breathe. Perhaps we really do wear our busyness like a badge of honor when really it’s a disability. So here’s another attempt to recount the day:

* On the drive home from Lansing, I sang along to very loud favorite songs in the car, remembering how much I loved them.

* I walked for 40 minutes under colorful trees, grateful for every little detail of my life, breathing in the fresh fall air and noticing the clouds move across the sky, hearing the crack and pop of golfers on the course nearby. On the walk, I encountered an old friend and stopped to talk, energized by the connection. Her girls hopped around rocks in a yard so happily.

* I got to hang with my son and his choir buddies before the concert, and then I got to see him perform a solo.

* I loved the taste of the date milkshake I made while enjoying part of an old Downton Abbey episode before heading to the concert. It was so quiet in my house.

I finished the conference call while sitting in my car in my driveway and while there, I saw the most curious thing: little fat birds flitting between the lights on my garage.

There were so many of them, in their little bodies, and tufts of feathers and fat bellies, and it seemed that they communicated to one another as they went from one side of the garage to another post at the edge to the fence to the trees.

They moved quickly and with intent. And I just sat there and watched, watched their wings flutter and their beaks peak into crevices and listened to their shrill tweets of communication.

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