Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Busy-ness Can Lead to Dizzy-ness

People's lives are busy. Some people actually define their lives by saying, "I'm so busy, or too busy or these are busy days." They revel in the busy-ness of their lives. They revel in the going out and about to do a zillion errands, or projects, or luncheons. They revel in being seen as "busy." Busy-ness defines their lives.

But sometimes I wonder if these people who are so "busy" are actually just avoiding themselves. Avoiding personal introspection. Avoiding examining who they are or where they need to go. Other times I wonder if these busy people are busy because it makes them feel important. The busy-ness defines them.

Ever met somebody like that? I've met a few. I may have actually been guilty of committing the act of "busy-ness" myself. Heck, I was young once. I did my fair share and plus of extra work when I was employed outside the home and afterward. I remember an incredibly intense time after I became a mom where I spent about 6 or 7 years volunteering in the school, the church, the neighborhood--basically did it all. For free. But then I think part of my motivation was the free babysitting *grin*.

Yup. I was a "busy" person. And I knew a lot of "busy people." It wasn't until I was forced to sit down and take stock that I truly began my inner journey. I admit, I was a self-help book addict for years. Heck, with the crazy dysfunctional background I came from, who wouldn't be? But I never really examined who I wanted to be until I couldn't be out in the world being, well, you know, "busy."

Yup. I couldn't be busy cause I got this weirdo bug in my ear that made me dizzy. Beyond dizzy. I had a serious cases of perpetual vertigo. It was the kind of vertigo that made me sick, blackout, with tremenous heat and frightening moments of disorientation. And the only way to beat it back was to STOP BEING SO BUSY.

I was felled by a tiny bug in my inner ear for 6 MONTHS.

At first I was so sick, I didn't have much energy. I napped. Unheard of in my house. I am a "get up and go" kinda girl. Naturally, after I had a few months of serious downtime, I got bored. You know boredom is actually not a bad thing. Boredom means you're healing. Boredom means your mind is getting ready for the next creative adventure.

Now if a "get up and go" girl can't really, uh, go anywhere in the real world, what is she going to do? Oh, hmmm, any good guesses out there? Oh, yeah. Write. And that is how I rediscovered what I know I was always meant to do. I began writing my first novel. It was an escape, a joyful experience, and I fell in love with my childhood dreams again.

That was a wonderful year. The said book was finished, queried and requested by Silhouette Desire BEFORE I even knew about RWA, CRAFT, ETC.

Fast forward almost five years. I'm still focused on the writing. I love it. I have four books under my belt (though I call them 8 given all the recent plot revisions) and I am submitting, being requested, and happily involved in all my RWA/PRO/Chapter organizations. I am also blogging, FaceBook connecting (imagine if they'd had facebook back when I first got DIZZY? I might not be writing cause I'd be "busy" connecting with my social network), TWEETING, helping with an online workshop, volunteering to help with the PRO Retreat, judging contests, entering contests.... YIKES! I am afraid I might get dizzy again.

And yes, before you ask, I am blond. Let the jokes begin and end now.

But I won't get DIZZY. You know why I believe in my heart I won't get dizzy? Because all my "busy" stuff is what I want to do for my career (and my family--which comes FIRST). I have learned the fine art of saying "no." Or, better, "let me get back to you about that request after I think about it." Or better yet, "I would like some help with this please."

Most of all, I've given myself permission to walk away from my commitments and take a breath. When dinner starts, if the phone rings, I don't answer it. Period. I keep my commitments to a set amount and I don't feel obligated to be perfect (losing perfectionism is a great way to give up the "busy" life). I don't say "yes" to make someone think better of me. And I don't say "yes" to gain approval or puff up my ego. Frankly, I don't consider saying "yes" to anything that does not reflect my Top 5 Priority List.

Ah, the Top 5 Priority List. I shared this list with you in January. I learned about this method of establishing boundaries from a LIFE MAKEOVER book I read when I was dizzy. I reevaluate it every quarter. Usually it stays the same, at least the top 2 items stay the same. The bottom 3 vary depending on season, where I am in my life, and how the rest of the family is faring.

But what is a priority? What does this word mean to you? Here is a brief dictionary explanation:

Priority Defined:


*A thing that is regarded as more important than another.
The housework didn't figure high on her list of priorities.
Seriously? It never does figure high on my list of priorities. Sure I want to prevent my toilets from being deemed toxic & hazardous, but if my house is dirty and you want to come over cause you're down or need a friendly face, I'm your girl!

*The fact or condition of being regarded or treated as important.
The safety of the country takes priority over every other matter.
Or, the health and welfare of my family, and myself, is regarded or treated as important. If I am trying to do too much, everyone suffers, including me. 

*The right to take precedence or proceed before others.
Priority is given to those with press passes.
Now I love this. The items/things/people who take precedence or proceed before others in my life are my family first, my writing (actual writing, not blogging or stuff of that nature), my health, my dearest friends, my spirit and my soul. Everybody and everything else must wait in line. Period.

This getting your priorities straight isn't a perfect process. Sometimes I revert and nibble a bit more off than I can chew. Usually the first thing that suffers is my health. So I get a pretty quick reminder to get my priorities sorted.

Ironically, my weirdest time to keep my priorities straight is through the summer months. I've got these writing goals, but I scale them back a bit, or make room for flexible writing time, during this time of year. Darling Daughter is underfoot, we've got summer travel plans, and I want to enjoy my family during these lazy days. I don't stop writing, but I do break it up differently. And again, my priority is to work on my MS or WIP in Revision. If I'm not on Facebook or I miss a blog post, well that means I'm focusing on my first priority: health and happiness of my family. We're probably at the pool, or shopping, or visiting some museum. And that's okay.

That's the key to maintaining your priorities and boundaries: telling yourself it's okay to let something slide or go slack every once in a while. REALLY!


Jen said...

I love your blog!!! I followed Pink Tea and Paper to find you :) It's such a cute place to visit!

I used to say I was "busy" to friends or just regular individuals but it's because I have a fear of large crowds and get overwhelmed so easily. I have since then made a pact to myself to be more open-minded and take chances. Luckily I'm not like you described!

Holy cow girl look at you working through those books! I'm definitely living through you right now!

Christine said...

Hi Jen! So nice to meet you on my blog. I love Pink Tea & Paper--Ellen's my Irish connection. I adore her view points.

Crowds aren't for everyone. I can work a crowd, to a point, but if they are too big, I feel like I'm being smothered. The people are like walls.

But when we take chances and open ourselves up to new experiences, then the world sends us even better experiences to enjoy!


Piedmont Writer said...

I was 'busy' for twenty years. I worked three and four jobs at a time. I never did anything for myself. I was a 'career' girl. Then I had a baby. I was still 'busy'. But then I got sick, sort of dizzy, and was in bed for a year. And what did I do? I wrote a book. I've been querying it for months, have had a few nibbles but no bites but I'm not giving up.

I know what my priorities are. Her, me and the writing.

And I never answer my phone. Ever. That's what the machine is for.

Great great post!!! Thanks for sharing.

Christine said...

Piedmont Writer! Wow, we must have been separated at birth. I was on my own at 16 and worked for years. Then had babette and went silly nuts on the whole "volunteer" thing-vertigo saved my life!

I am proud to call myself a DIZZY BLOND.

And yeah, why do people jump up to get a phone just as dinner is placed on the table?

I refuse.

Christine said...

PS Piedmont: write another book--query the first and go forth on the next one :-)

Ellen Brickley said...

Thanks, guys :)

I've never gotten long-term illness due to excessive busyness but I have gotten it in the short-term. When I left college I was very keen to keep up contact with the friends I had made, and really it's only now that I have the confidence to say 'You know what? If I can't meet up with someone for a little while, they'll still be there.' Within reason. I don't blow off my friends to watch bad television for six months at a time either. . . it's all about balance!

It is so important to take time out for ourselves. Living in a society that worships busy-ness and activity can be draining sometimes!

Christine said...

Hi Ellen: Absolutely right about how worshipping busy-ness can drain a body & soul. And the other thing I learned is to be selective about who I will spend time with if I have the time. Darling Hubby wants to rub shoulders with everyone, he's super social. I'm social, but I have limits. I'd rather spend an afternoon or a day with a super special friend than while away the hours with a herd of superficial people.

Balance and knowing who you are is so important.