i’m busy being busy

We all say it constantly, myself included: Where have you been? What have you been up to? Oh, you know I’ve been sooooooo busy. You know how it is…. Or, it’s really great when you didn’t do something you were supposed to do or someone asked you to do: Why didn’t you get that done? I was too busy! It’s like the catch-all excuse. And truth be told, it’s kind of long been a bit of a pet peeve of mine – even though I can still often be heard using it myself. Because honestly, it’s often what we’ve really led ourselves to believe…that we really wanted to get that phone call made or get that report written, but darn it, we were just too busy to get it done!

But why don’t we all just face up to the truth? Every second of every minute of every day of our lives is about deciding between a trillion different things we could be doing with our time. Like, many of us decide between staying in bed and getting up to go to work every Monday through Friday. I would assume that if you have a job, most often, though you may not want to with all your might – you are going to choose to get up and go to work. Why? Because that’s how you get a paycheck, which helps pay your bills and buy you food. Therefore making it a “priority” in your life.

That’s right folks….it’s called prioritizing. So, the next time you tell someone – anyone – that you didn’t do X, Y or Z because you were “too busy,” take at least one step back to recognize that what you really mean is that it wasn’t something you chose as a priority that day. Because when you think about it, it’s always amazing how much you can actually fit into your life when you make it a priority. Don’t get me wrong – there are many good reasons that we make some things priorities over other things, such as the work example above, but some aren’t as obvious or critical. But maybe every once in a while, instead of just automatically blurting out that “you were too busy” to do something, think twice about it and instead consider saying that it just wasn’t a priority for whatever reason. I know it makes me feel good sometimes when I own up to it and maybe you will, too.

I’ll go ahead and take a step down from my soap box now and say that believe it or not, I thought of that all because I was about to start this post by saying that I hadn’t written for a few days because I had been too busy – but the truth is, blogging just did not make my list of top priorities for the day in recent days. For a couple of nights, I decided to make sleeping a priority because I was exhausted – in part I think from coming down from a lot of emotional happenings over the past couple of weeks. I mean, I guess I figure any time you are waking up in the morning feeling like you want to puke because you are so tired, and this is before you start a full day at work – perhaps it’s time to prioritize getting to bed over blogging while mindlessly listening to your millionth episode of House Hunters. Thursday night, after a couple of nights of catching up on some sleep, I had an especially-enjoyable and always-appreciated girls’ night out….which, once again, left me slightly tired on Friday morning.

No time for rest because the priority that day was, well, as usual, work – and celebrating Jeff’s birthday. Originally we had planned to take the whole day off together but given that some time-sensitive projects were looming overhead, I did go in for the first half of the day before heading home. After that, it was pure gluttony. First, we headed downtown for lunch and a glass of wine on the outdoor patio at Veritable Quandary. After getting the Burplings home and settled with Maria, we went back downtown and over to the east side to meet some people from work at Noble Rot, a lovely wine bar that overlooks the city and is a favorite of ours. It is here that I must take a moment to digress and share a quick conservation that only a Portlander can appreciate:

Me to the server: Do you have a pinot on the happy hour menu? Server: We do. Me: What is it? Server (sheepishly): Well, it’s from California. Me: Saying nothing – just giving server an obviously surprised/confused/slightly disgusted look on my face with slightly crinkled nose and pursed lips. Server: I know….we had to stop serving Oregon because it got too expensive. Me: Fine. I’ll take it. (Hey, one can never get too picky at happy hour, right?)

After Noble Rot, Jeff and I moved on to our next over-indulgent adventure: El Matador on NW 23rd. It was kind of a last-minute change of plans because we were actually headed to a little tapas place that we like when we drove by this place and decided to try it instead (actually, Jeff had been there before, so technically it was just my first time). Plus, there were all sorts of pretty people there and perhaps we were feeling the need to feel pretty or something. What we learned, which we kind of already knew, is that when a place is chock full of 20-somethings in hip outfits, it’s probably not the most gourmet food in the world. In fact, the only thing gourmet was the prices. So, it was okay and while they did make a semi-mean white sangria and offer some good people-watching opportunities, El Matador has probably seen the last of Los Burpos. There are just way too many other really good eateries in Portland.

Once Jeff and I got ourselves home and rolled up the stairs to bed (which is never easy to do, as I’m sure anyone who has actually tried it can attest), I had the privilege of getting out of bed at 6 a.m. to go the zoo for a morning event. Luckily my life and sanity were saved with coffee and pastries. Translated: more over-indulgence. From what I saw though when I finally got my eyes open, it sure was a gorgeous morning. Blue sunshine, crisp air, a breeze, pretty evergreens in every direction…one of those mornings that makes you never want summer to end.

Now, I could detail the rest of our day…which lincluded a birthday party, a trip to the store (or one of them, at least) and the all-important and always-wonderful Beaverton Bakery outing to get Jeff a belated birthday cake – but instead let’s just leave it at this: I’ve been really busy!

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3 thoughts on “i’m busy being busy

  1. Hey Melinda! You are a good writer. Glad you guys had a nice night out for Jeff’s b-day. I wanted to comment on something I’ve been working on over the past several years that’s related to your post. That’s allowing myself to do nothing. I’d gotten to the point where I felt like I needed to be doing something productive at all times and I was a stressed out wreck. I’ve learned over the past several years that we need to take just as much care of ourselves as we take care of others and that includes down time. We are after all human beings, not human doings. It’s been a long slow process but I’m getting there and it’s really helped my stress levels. Zita used to help me notice when I was “shoulding” myself. We all do that all the time it’s so ingrained into our American way of thinking. There are weekend days when I wake up and feel mentally and physically exhausted so I sleep late, have breakfast and play on facebook for a couple hours, take a long nap, and then watch tv the rest of the day. I used to never allow myself to do that and there are times when I still have trouble doing it and find myself battling internally with “shoulds”. When I have those battles, they manifest themselves in my knees of all places as they start to ache so that helps me notice the “shoulding”.

    • Good advice! I think too many of us have trouble just relaxing. If I’m sitting on the couch, I always feel like there’s something else I should be doing. Of course, with two young children it makes allowing yourself down time extra challenging. But not impossible. For you – knees; for me – as soon as I start to get stressed it goes to my jaw, along with shoulders and neck. Zita was a wise and good friend, for sure.

  2. I hear you! I am as guilty of behaving this way as anyone. I am trying to get better about prioritizing my time on what is really important but I am kind of addicted to spending time reading the NYT headlines and other such sites, especially political. It is something I need to curtail somewhat — I’m working on it.

    Making Jeff’s birthday celebration a priority was certainly the right thing to do — I know it meant a lot to him. It sounds like you both/all had a good celebration!

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