“I think I’m addicted to being busy.”

Sitting outside our favorite French bistro in Harlem, I was explaining to one of my girlfriends why my schedule was always packed. A driven gal with a loaded planner like myself, I expected her to nod in agreement. Instead, she simply looked up from her poached egg sandwich and said, “Yeah, I think you are.”

Maybe, I thought, this is just in my genes. After all, I was born of woman whose idea of a Sunday in is upturning the house for Spring cleaning. No matter what the season, my mother was always working. It was either on something for her school, something for my father’s shop or something for her daughters. But whatever it was, my mother always had more to do.

From the time I was younger, seeing my mother in action made it clear to me that work was never finished. There would always be another pile of clothes to fold, another set of bills to pay, another stack of paperwork to get to. So I emulated her work ethic, but not her filter for what needed to be done, how and when. It wasn’t being busy and being smart, it was being busy and being occupied.

In her book, Inner Simplicity, author Elaine St. James writes:

“There are plenty of reasons why many of us have been moving at breakneck speed in recent years. Oftentimes, they have nothing to do with trying to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Some of us have kept moving, either to prove to ourselves that we’re still alive, or in the unconscious fear that if we stop, we’ll have to take a close look at who we are…It can be terrifying to accept the fact that it’s okay to do nothing.”

More and more, I am leaning to be wiser with what I give my time to. But I am also learning that even when the to-do list doesn’t seem to have an end in sight, I still need time for doing nothing. Even two or three minutes of the day to be still and check in with myself can help.

Today, as your mind fills with thoughts of what is to come, know there will always be something next. Take even one minute to do nothing but being grateful, knowing whatever is to come- you are here.

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  • African Mami

    A minute is not enough, take a whole day off!

  • Whenever I complain to my mother about working too hard, she says it’s okay, pay your dues and do it while you are young. I have thought a lot about how we overwork ourselves, but I think it is something women are prone to do. I do think that we need to slow down, but it may be that we don’t because we have experiennced satisfaction when we do. I have recently learned to be enjoy a good stretch and a good book. I actually look forward to breaking with these activities.