It appears as if the world has woken up from its pandemic slumber.
A few months ago the streets were empty.
However, today, in my neighborhood, the restaurants have their windows and doors wide open and appear to be full of mostly happy, young, and vibrant people, excitedly reuniting with one another.
While acknowledging the very real hardships experienced by many—loss of loved ones, the uptick in teen anxiety, loneliness and depression, and pandemic-induced job uncertainty—many of my friends have quietly told me that they’ve actually enjoyed what was for them, “time off.”
They tell me that the slow down was a welcome reprieve from their never-ending busy schedules. That they don’t miss spending hours in traffic going to and coming home from work. That it’s been a relief not having to fill their calendars with never-ending social obligations.
They tell me that they now feel much more refreshed. That they have more time for tennis, their pelotons, and for doing nothing at all if they so choose. That because of the social pause, going out for a night on the town now no longer sounds like work. That soon they’ll happily get out of their yoga pants to do this, with the caveat that at some point, they might miss the easy excuse to stay home and chill, if they prefer to, instead.
Each time I hear them say “chill,” I immediately feel a pang of jealousy.
Maybe this is because, personally, when I look back at my year I don’t see much of that particular action. And I wonder…did I miss out? Did I miss out on chilling out? Did I spend any time just be-ing instead of doing doing doing all the time?
Flipping through last year’s day planner and what I do see is a lot of busyness.
But I smile when I look at the actions that filled my days—I took on new clients, did a lot of ghostwriting on topics dear to my heart, created new online courses, wrote chapters for two different Amazon bestsellers, recorded webinars for my alma mater as a guest expert, got a new health certification, and the list goes on and on.
Sure, I was busy.
But I wasn’t busy just for the sake of being busy.
I was busy being the person I want to be. And I was busy doing the work I love to do.
Frankly, looking back and deep down, I didn’t want any “time off.”
I didn’t want to hit pause.
After tuning in, within, I came to the conclusion that while I may not have slowed down, I didn’t miss out on anything that I didn’t want to miss out on.
And that because of this I actually feel more reinvigorated than ever.
How did this happen?
Over the last year, I’ve gained a deeper sense of connection, worth, and presence. Here’s how:
Prior to the pandemic, family walks were infrequent and met with groans. Today, my oldest son eagerly joins me each evening. He tells me about the books he’s reading and relives his past soccer matches while we walk through neighborhoods that still smell like spring. He knows where my favorite garden is and I know exactly where he’s going to ask me to get on my tiptoes to reach a few mulberries for him. Often, my youngest son and husband will join us on their bicycles, riding in circles around us, laughing and chatting and reveling in connection.
For years my husband and I bought organic blueberries and saved them for our kids. Organic blueberries are full of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals and are great for brain health. They’re not drenched in pesticides like conventionally-grown blueberries. My husband and I had an unspoken agreement that due to their higher cost we should deprive ourselves of these blueberries in the name of self-sacrifice. During the pandemic, it hit me that my husband’s and my health are not any less or more important than our kids. Today, I buy two or three large Costco-size containers each week with a large smile on my face knowing that we’ll have enough blueberries for anyone who wants them. Regardless of age, we are all worthy of quality food!
During the week I can be found sitting at my desk, the camera on, engaged in deep conversation with my clients. I turn off my phone, my notifications, and if I’m concerned about interruptions, I’ve occasionally locked my home-office door. During their sessions, my clients share their humanness with me. Nothing feels missing during these moments and time with them is tremendously fulfilling for me and uplifting for them. I don’t get distracted, my mind doesn’t wander and there’s nothing I’d rather do than be present with them.
When I look back over the last year, I’m grateful.
I filled my days with the people and things that mattered most to me.
Sure I’m aware that I may have missed most of Netflix. And that I didn’t spend hours staying up to date on all of the twists and turns of politics and evening news.
But I realize that I’m more than fine with this.
(If you filled your days with those things, please know that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it (unless you wish you hadn’t spent your time that way, and if so, then that’s where your potential lives moving forward.))
When I look at how full my days were, no question I was busy.
But I was busy being and feeling connected, worthy and present.
So I’m no longer harboring thoughts of possibly missing out on the global pause. I didn’t miss out. I was plugged in exactly where I wanted to be. And I was balancing busy with being in a way that worked for me.
Now, it’s your turn.
When you look back, regardless of whether you had ‘time off” or not, were you able to balance busy with being in a way that felt good to you? And today, can you give yourself the gift of being busy being the person you want to be, however it looks?
About the Author: Heather Aardema is a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach living in Colorado with her husband and two grade-school boys. You can find more of her essays focused on growing healthy and living fully at RootofWellbeing.com.