• Barbie Winterbottom

Addicted to Busy I- Are You An Addict Too?

Hello Everyone!! I have been a bit quiet these past 2 weeks as I was on a much needed and wonderful family vacation and I realized, I am an addict.

We spent 2 weeks in beautiful Longboat Key. I promised my family I would not work at all. I fulfilled my promise about 98% of the time, I did have 2 calls, but they were not at times when the family was impacted and I kept them short, unlike other vacations where I was constantly distracted, on my phone, checking email, texting and taking any and all work calls that came in.  I would worry about what fresh hell was awaiting me upon my return, I would worry about what wasn't being managed properly, what the CEO might need or that my team would feel I wasn't supporting them enough while I was out.  So, with that history, I am pretty pleased with my 98% achievement.

We went boating twice, sat on the beach, played in the waves and floated in the pool for 14 days! We saw Manatee's and Dolphin's and a ton of sea turtle nests. We reconnected as a family and with nature in meaningful ways. I sat and did nothing. I listened to 2.5 audio books (The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown, Tribe of Mentors by Time Ferris and How to be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi-for the 2nd time). I went "duck diving" in waves with our daughter, for hours.  I woke up at 3:30am one morning for some unknown reason, and sat on the balcony and watched the moon and stars for hours and then watched as the sun came up, I took a nap, I didn't wear makeup, I wore only flip flops for shoes, I slept in until 10am. I had no agenda, no pressure and it was fantastic. 

I haven't been on a real vacation like that ever, even though we have traveled extensively and I took PTO every year.   Last year, my wife and I were in Europe at Versailles, walking through the famous, Hall of Mirrors.  I had been looking forward to seeing this particular room for years, as it is filled with so much history and grandeur.  When we finally got there, unlike the other visitors who were taking copious pictures and taking it all in, I was off in a corner taking a call and answering text messages and emails.  Looking back, I barely remember being there and only have 1-2 photos.  I realize now I robbed myself of an amazing experience and memory. I have no idea what that "important phone call" was about, but I do now recognize how precious that time was and that I can never get those moments back.

Comparing the past two weeks with previous vacations, it is so clear to me that I am now a recovering addict.  I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do illegal drugs (or abuse legal ones)...but I have been addicted to being "busy".  

Sadly, in our culture, we have somehow associated "status" with busy. We are all so busy being "busy" we don't even know how to respond when someone asks us how we are.  Think about it, how many times have you responded to someone who asks, "How are you?"-with..."I'm busy"?  "I'm busy" isn't an emotion, it doesn't tell anyone how you are feeling, or how you are doing, it's a method of deflection and to some, a way of feeling important, successful or relevant. We are "busy" striving to be more, get more or feel like we are "enough".

Many of us have hard wired (myself being one of those people) emotional responses to "non-activity".  Until my recent epiphany, my internal dialogue was something like this...  

Me:  I'm tired, I wish I could take a nap.  Maybe this Saturday I will sleep late and have brunch with a friend, then get a massage, get my nails done and come home and relax by the pool.


Also Me: You have laundry to do, a paper to write, 3 videos to edit, the dogs really need a long walk, we need to rearrange the garage, clean out our closets, take clothes to the donation place, drop supplies to the Humane Society, paint the deck, weed the flower beds, put down new mulch, learn how to do that really cool video editing thing, read that article on how to better develop your team, drink 80 ounces of water every day, plan next weeks meals, go grocery shopping, meal prep for the week, write 4 blog posts, establish the 2021 cadence for blog topics, watch the tutorial on podcasting...and so on and so on...brunch and massages are for people who have nothing better to do, people without responsibilities.   

Sound familiar?  I have been programmed to think relaxation, play and self-care are for lazy and/or frivolous people who don't know what real work and responsibility means and I can do all those things when I have achieved X, Y or Z.  I am also wrong.  Dead wrong! 

I am learning, we must enjoy our lives as we live them. Waiting for the day we can retire to do the thing we have been waiting to do means we aren't living fully now, and in reality, NOW is all we have. The scarcity mentality that permeates our society is killing us in so many ways. It makes us believe we are never "enough". We never have "enough", are successful "enough, thin "enough", experienced "enough", talented "enough"...and we are on this treadmill of constant "busy" trying to achieve all these things and we must find ways to turn this OFF! I am not saying we can't get better or that we shouldn't strive to learn, expand our talents, be as healthy as possible, etc., but striving to improve doesn't mean we aren't enough just as we are right now and that we shouldn't relax, take naps and connect with those we love and to ourselves. 

While I don't believe there is a 12 step program to help us "Busy" addicts detox from this disease and if you're like me, it will take practice, and the benefits will be so worth it.  I encourage you to try.  Allow yourself the time you need to relax, disconnect and to play.  Perhaps use the tools you already have at your fingertips.  Block time on your calendar to meditate, go for a walk, meet with a friend, take a nap, journal, read a book just for fun, swim in your pool or whatever it is you find relaxing and playful.

Stepping back from the daily 8-5 and self-imposed pressure to be busy 24/7 and to be "more", has helped me see this more clearly and in new ways. I believe for many of us it takes a full disconnection from electronics, video meetings, text messages and phone calls to find our reset buttons. It took me about 3 days of full disconnection before I could really lean into it and exhale, when I finally did, it was wonderful. 

I share this as I am hoping you will all commit to taking time for yourselves and your families. It doesn't have to be a two week vacation, but committing to dedicating time to what is most important to you is absolutely necessary to be our best selves and recognize our value and that we are indeed enough.

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