March 1, 2017

Busyness Is A Lie. Here’s How To Kick It To The Curb

I’ve noticed in the last decade or so, maybe longer, that we have perfected the art of being busy.

And busy is synonymous with being important. Having value and status.

When I was growing up, in the olden days as my kids love to point out, busy wasn’t a thing. Now I’m a product of the 1970s and I remember none of the things we do now.

I belonged to one thing at a time. Choir. Violin lessons. Soccer. Girl Guides.

Nothing overlapped.

My siblings were pretty much the same. We were often thrown into activities together.

(We also weren’t supervised and wow, there was a lot of shit we got into! LOL)

I’m raising my spawn the same way. One activity each. We are not a family that scarfs down dinner between coming home from work and running to nightly activities. My weekends are not crammed with events.

But this is not me being judgey. It’s me wondering at the changes of the things we accept now as normal.

I’m going to pause here and acknowledge that every parent and person is doing the best they can with what they have. We’re all swimming without a real map and it can get messy.

What I’m looking at is being so busy that we miss out on life.

At the Railway City Arts Crawl this past weekend, I spoke with several creative people. Lovely people, each with interesting stories. But the one that got me was the sculptor.

She glowed when she spoke of her art. She overflowed with ideas. And so I asked her about her current piece.

Her current piece was sitting, unworked on for several years because she was too busy.

What. A. Shame.

We accept being busy as a reason to set aside dreams. And since busy = importance, it’s seen as a good excuse.

As parents, we’re told that in order for the spawn to succeed in life, they must be enrolled in various sports and classes outside of school. Their dreams should be our dreams.

And if we haven’t spawned offspring, then it’s work or other obligations taking over our creative lives.

I reject that utterly and completely.

What we’ve lost is the ability to make priorities. And priorities matter in life.

When I go to speak, or write online, I run three questions through my filter:

Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?

I think we need the same thing when it comes to being busy.

Is it necessary?
Does it bring me joy?
Can I live without it?

And we can flip that around for allowing things into our lives.

So for me, this is how I answered when I was deciding about my art career. How much of my busy life, my work life was I willing to sacrifice?

It’s necessary. I will regret it FOREVER if I don’t take this as far as I can.

It completes my life in a way I never expected. Joy is an understatement. I am fully and 100% me when I paint.

My soul would wither without it. And in fact, I’m so determined to make sure I can always paint, I taught myself how to paint equally well with both hands. If you watch my videos, you can see me switch hands as I go. This way if I lose the ability to hold a brush in one hand, I have a backup.

So, if you have the urge to paint, write, sculpt or create, a calling that maybe has been set aside, maybe it’s time to prioritize.

To add art in my life, I gave up hovering over my kids all the time. Making their wishes and activities a priorty. Instead I invited them to join me in the studio.

To add art in my life, I gave up a lot of evenings and weekends drinking with my friends and neighbours. I missed their company but my liver was grateful.

When I added art in my life, I accidentally ended up modelling living your dreams to my kids. I don’t talk the talk, I WALK it. And that has been an unexpected and major force in their lives.

I challenge you to look at your dreams. Old, dusty or maybe just recently neglected.

I challenge you to look at your life and see what you really need.

And I challenge you to answer these three questions:

Is it necessary?
Does it bring me joy?
Can I live without it?
Did you know?

When I was growing up, married women and especially women over 40 had to live, dress and act a certain way.

An acceptable way.

I remember, as a young child, thinking life for me would be over at 30. I had to meet my dreams before then because life after 30 was a slow death.

Things are different now but I still see a lot of walking dead people everywhere and it breaks my heart.