Time is a funny thing.
As I get older, it seems to move more and more quickly. There are days and weeks for which I’m happy that the passing is quick. But many days, it’s a challenge to fit everything in.
We’ve all heard someone tell us how busy they are. For some, it’s a mark of overwhelm and stress; for some, it almost seems a badge of honor. It’s a too-easy response to the question: How are you? The reply: Good, but so busy. I’ve said it myself, with barely a moment to think before the words tumble out. You too?
Am I busy? Sure, but I work hard to keep my busy clear of crazy; I work hard not to let it cause overwhelm (though I certainly feel overwhelm and stress sometimes!) and I certainly don’t consider it a badge of honor. We’re all busy. But we make choices – every single day – about the way we use our minutes and hours, our days and weeks, our years and our lifetimes.
I’m too busy to take a painting class. I’m too busy to exercise. I’m too busy to eat healthily. I’m too busy, I’m too busy, I’m too busy. You know what? I don’t buy it. In certain circumstances, yes…we all go through phases of life when we are filled to the brim. But generally speaking—nope, I don’t buy it.
Busy is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as engaged in action, full of activity…which, to me, actually sounds inviting, life-affirming, maybe even inspiring. Being engaged in activity is a positive thing when we’re careful about which activities fill our days. So be clear that your busy is a busy that suits you. Busy will look and feel different for each of us.
If I’m learning anything as I grow older, it’s that we have the power to make choices. We choose the fresh fruit or the doughnut. We choose the walk or the couch. We choose the canvas or the television. To be clear, I’m not implying that the doughnut or couch or television are poor choices. Sometimes they are just the ticket! So, yes, enjoy choices like that. Just be deliberate in those choices; be intentional. Know that any choice you’re making at any given moment is your choice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
I know days are full with work and family and friends and exercise and bills and cleaning and on and on and on. But what if, at the end of the day, you read a chapter instead of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram? What if, at the beginning of the day, you walked for ten minutes instead of not walking at all? What if you attended the painting class instead of watching Netflix? What if?
I’m not claiming it’s always easy, this choice thing. But it’s simple. It really is. There might be a lot to do, but be clear on your priorities. Make intentional choices. And remember this: everything doesn’t need to be done today. Be engaged, feel the fullness. Say yes, say no. Shuffle and rearrange as necessary. Take deep breaths. Participate wholly.
You are alive. Be engaged.
Sending a little love your way, m
8 thoughts on “Be Engaged”
TRUTH! I put myself on media diets. I allot an hour to scroll or read then I shut it down. Same with blog reading or instagram. I schedule in what is very important – reading, knitting, and embracing some budding artistic skills in sketching and painting.
I am busier now more than ever BUT I love babysitting the toddler (love love love) and going to the gym three days a week while a huge commitment is an investment into my overall body health I cannot ignore. I’m seeing great progress in my strength and Im in less pain. yay.
Both my daughter and I do not like when people say they are ‘busy’. It’s a pet peeve, like when people always say they are ‘tired’.
Okay, I’m stopping now….but I could go on and on about it.
Karen! Oh, you totally get it! Yes to everything you’ve said and bravo to you for filling your life and time with meaningful activity. So, so good. xo
Hello dear Michelle, love your post, it fits exactly what I’m thinking about this crazy busyness that some people are proud of. Spending all these months in a hospital, suffering, seeing others suffer, knowing that in a split of a second everything can change have made me give much more value to my life and time. Now I’m making space for my needs during the day, not only early mornings when everybody is still sleeping. I’m making better/healthier choices as well. Small things here and there can make a difference in our growth as a human being. One of the things I wasn’t sure if I’d ‘have time’ to blog again, I was resistant to do it, takes a long time to write the post and follow up with the comments, visit friend sites…, but I enjoy it a lot. Last Friday I wrote and published my first post after coming back from the hospital. I love my post, I wrote about my Journaling practice! I’ve got a lot of comments from friends that I missed. I’m so happy I made time for this activity. I’ve decided not to say “I’m very busy and I don’t have time for this and that”, I’ll priority to the things I love to do and let go of what isn’t important to me. Your post made me smile! Hugs to you!
Dear Elizabeth, I imagine you have an acute understanding of the frailty of time given your recent health challenges. I’m so glad you’re on the mend and moving forward with what you’ve gained and learned. Here’s to setting priorities and loving what we do…and to letting go of the rest. xo
Michelle, this is so topical for me. I was actually going to sit down today and write a post about using the word should v. could. You’re right, we all have the power to make choices – to exercise or clean the house, to have cake or a piece of fruit – but as I read your post I realized that it sometimes is deeper than just making a simple choice. It’s also giving yourself permission to let go and not feel guilty if the vacuuming doesn’t get done, or the laundry ironed. That’s the hard part for me, giving myself a break from feeling guilty about things left undone.
Of course, it also doesn’t help that I am happier when the house is clean and clutter is sorted, so do I just make that my priority? Clean first and then play? You addressed this beautifully in your lovely monthly note to us.
So much goodness in your post! A lot to think about. How I wish we were neighbors and talk about this over a cup of tea! xx
Grace…definitely nuanced!!!! If we were having tea, I would gently suggest that, in giving oneself permission to let go of guilt, we are making a choice. Not an easy one at all!!! But it *is* a choice.
As for the priorities – in your example, do you clean first and then play? – I’d say that all depends on the day/the week/the month. For me, it’s a constant assessing of what *truly* needs doing. Sometimes that might be to take care of the clutter, sometimes it honestly might be the play. We must allow ourselves some amount of grace to shift as necessary.
…and I would very much enjoy being your neighbor and chatting about such things over a cup of tea. xo
Just what I needed to hear, a gentle reminder. I am in full agreement with your thoughts. And when I hear my self say, “I’m too busy,” especially to meet with a friend or take care of myself, I see it as a red flag. It’s my warning that I am over-extended and even worse, becoming someone I do not want to be. I never want to become a person who does not have time for those I love. Time is precious and I want to use my wisely. Yes to priorities and stopping for a few minutes to sort those out. Thank you, Michelle, for being a voice of reason – and for your photographs that make time stand still for just a moment.
Donna, I’m appreciating your thoughts so much. Sometimes I share something and wonder if it will come across the wrong way…things can get lost in translation. I’m so glad to know this resonated for you. It’s a fine line at times…I don’t claim to have it figured out for myself and I certainly don’t claim to have it figured out for others. But we must pause and consider how and why and where we’re moving.
Here’s to remembering the preciousness of this life…