What I learnt this week: Busy?

I’ve been busy for as long as I can remember.  I don’t really get less busy, I just somehow get more busy.  But I’m definitely not alone.  All of my friends are the same- BUSY.  It’s almost like some sort of epidemic these days.  The busy disease…

And it’s like a sickness that takes over you.  One that’s incredibly hard to shake.  Trying to stop yourself from cramming your day with an endless to do list or filling it up with social outings or staying at work that little longer is a seemingly impossible task.

There’s only really one way that the ‘busyness’ can be stopped.  And it’s not by trying.  You can’t write ‘relax’ on your to do list.  Believe me I’ve tried.  The only thing that stops it in its tracks, is sickness.  I’m talking debilitating, black plague, bed ridden for day’s type sickness.  So that even if you wanted to get up, your body will absolutely not let you!

This week after an extreme period of being busy I was struck with tonsillitis.  It almost killed me to cancel work for 4 days straight.  Alas, I had no choice.  I was forced to stay in bed- shaking and shivering, feeling sorry for myself.   Knowing I’d let myself get so run down that I’d brought it upon myself.

Day 2 I felt a little better and I was able to indulge in a little Netflix therapy.  I watched the latest season of ‘Jane the Virgin.’  It’s funny, that show  always comes into my life just at the right moments and season three taught me what I needed to know in a big way.

I won’t spoil it for those of you who watch the series.  I’ll just say something horrific happens and Jane needs to go to therapy because she’s having panic attacks.  The therapist tells her about a technique she can use when she feels the attacks threatening to take over.  It’s called HALT.  You put your hand on you heart, breathe and check in with yourself.  Are you- Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Or Tired?

Usually these are the triggers for the attacks.  Of course this may not always be the case but I thought it was an interesting concept.  And I applied it to my busy life.  I asked myself why I’d been keeping myself so busy recently.

When I got the answer it wasn’t what I expected and I cried.  And cried and cried.  I got it all out.  And I realised I was lonely.  Not in the regular way.  I have a wonderful group of friends and an amazing family.  There’s never a shortage of things to do or people to be with.  But it was more than that.  I missed my ex but I hadn’t wanted to see that or deal with it.

I’d been strong for so long.  Not thinking about it.  Saying I was better off.  Attempting to move on with someone new.  Just fill that hole in my heart right up.  Hahaha.  Well, it doesn’t work that way.  Worst of all when you can’t find someone to try to be with, you start filling that hole up with something else…Like being busy.  Yep, you distract yourself from the real issue.

However this week I beat ‘busyness.’  Getting sick was the best thing that has happened in a long time.  Because I had to stop and find out what I was running from.  Feeling all my sadness and loss was really hard.  However now I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time.   I’m still tired but a heaviness has definitely lifted.

So, will I stop being a productive person?  No.  But I will be more mindful about cramming my days so full that I don’t even want to get up in the morning.  That’s why HALT is my new best friend.  My check list for when I feel like I’m heading into ‘busyness’ overload and beyond!  I’m going to HALT and see what’s really going on!

What I learnt this week: Life and Death

I just finished reading ‘The Bright Hour,’ by Nina Riggs.  It’s a true story about  her journey from being diagnosed with terminal cancer to her treatment and finally death.  Sounds like a real happy read I know!  But although it’s about death, it was beautiful in the way that it made me think about life…

Nina was a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  His writing has been quoted all over the joint.  And most definitely on my blog somewhere along the way.  The poetry they both created with their words was extremely profound, yet steeped in such realism as they shared their experiences of the world.

In ‘The Bright Hour’ Nina didn’t give up and despair but embraced the time she had left.  Even the most normal things like watching her boys play or taking a ride on a motorbike and feeling the wind in her hair were cherished.  She spent time with the people she cared about the most.  And took the opportunity to grieve for all that she would eventually lose.

Yes, Nina’s book is about moving closer to death.  But we all die, we just don’t like to talk about it.  Which is funny because we’re surrounded by death.  All you have to do is turn the TV on or pop onto your phone and bam it’s there!  The truth is death is something most of us can’t imagine ourselves doing, yet it’s the only inevitable thing in life.

And it’s healthy to regcognise it will happen and we don’t know when. Reading the book made me more aware of how I’m living my life.   It made me to look more closely at the doing the things I wanted to do rather than the things I thought I ‘should’ do.

When I finished reading the book tears streamed down my face.  But in some weird way I felt comforted.  I saw that dying wasn’t the worst thing- not living your life truly is way more scary.  Nina was someone who really loved and really lived, though she knew death was knocking on the door.  And that’s something we could all do a little more of- really living and really loving.

What I learnt this week: Fearless

So my journey into 13 different worlds at the Melbourne International Film Festival is over.  It was heart breaking, uplifting and eye opening.  I loved it.  And funnily enough there was a very strong theme in all of the films I chose…

Every character had a sense of fearlessness.  Whether it was a woman with an intellectual disability who was beginning her first relationship at 50 OR a man traveling with a an elephant across Thailand by foot, in an attempt to get him back to his home OR a group of black, underprivileged teenage girls aspiring to college whilst working in a creative dance team- they were all fierce.

Some were fictional characters and some were real.  My favourite was a young Pakistani girl called Marie who played squash internationally, in spite of death threats from the Taliban (a true story).  She wasn’t willing to give up her dream for those who threatened it.

In fact Marie summed it up perfectly in one line when she said- ‘We are born fearless.  Fear can only be learnt.’

It’s so very true.

As an adult almost anything can be scary- if we let our fear get the better of us.  We must dig deep and see where we might be holding ourselves back.  As we need to be constantly reminded to get out of our comfort zone.  To be challenged.

I remember before I walked the Spanish Camino in 2013  I thought I was adventurous.  However I really wasn’t living my life adventurously.  I was scared and safe in my little routine.  But after that 600km  walk I had the courage to move my life to the UK where I only knew 1 person!  In 2 years I traveled to 16 countries, made new friends and built a life for myself.  I came back  to Australia fearless.

However that type of feeling can fade and you need to seek out challenges, otherwise you don’t grow as a human.  These challenges will be different for everyone- marriage, jobs, traveling.  You just gotta shake that fear by doing the thing that scares you.

You can do it.  Be fearless.  It’s how you were born.

What I learnt this week: Outrageous

I’m in the middle of attending a bunch of films at the Melbourne International Film Festival. And I’m in heaven. Seeing things from around the world opens your eyes to different cultures. And you realise how good we have it here in Australia.

We have everything a human could EVER need. Of course nothing will ever be perfect but we generally have the freedom to do as we please. And that can most definitely be taken for granted.

I know I can be complacent and complain. We all can. It’s called being entitled and it’s bullsh*t.  Of course there are things in life worth complaining about. Worth standing up for. I’m not saying we all lay down and be door mats when something is wrong.

What I’m saying is this…

  • If you turn up to your sushi place for lunch at 11am and they haven’t finished making the brown rice rolls you want- don’t moan about it. Get the white ones. You won’t die.
  • If someone asks politely for your to move your bag off a seat on a peak hour train so that they can sit down, there’s no need to get huffy.  You’re bag isn’t alive.  It doesn’t need a seat all to itself.
  • If your work place only offers full cream, low fat and soy milk don’t be pissed off that almond milk isn’t available.  You’ve got milk.  Drink it.

Another reason not to complain about inane crap is- NOBODY cares. Even if they pretend to. They don’t. All you’ll do is lose friends.  And alienate people.  Talk to your friends when you have a legitimate issue. They’ll be sympathetic and want to help.  After all that’s what friends are for!

We live in an amazing country. Let’s appreciate it. No- we can’t forget our rights. But our right is not to be outraged if our Wi-Fi is playing up. Outrage only when necessary. Please.