If you could use one word to describe 2015, what would it be?
My word is Busy. Busy set the stage for my whole year. And on that stage, I was Busy's puppet, doing shows night after night. It got a little tiring.
But I'll let you in on a secret - despite the exhaustion and stress, I think I'm secretly addicted to being busy. This addiction goes way back to high school, when I wanted to join every activity and club that was offered. It led to burnout, but didn't seem to slow down my desire for constant distraction. The internet took off in the late 90s, leading to more time on the computer. In university I was like an activity yo-yo, declaring my love of WRITING or MUSIC or ART or DATING, only to abandon these "hobbies" after a whirlwind affair (ok fine, dating is not really a hobby, but it could be, right??)
In my twenties, at the suggestion of my yoga teacher, I signed up for the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program. I had tried meditation several times, only to fall asleep or give up in frustration. This was different, though - backed by an experienced teacher and supported by a large group of wonderful people, I buckled down and just did it. 45 minutes of silent meditation every day, whether I liked it or not. I went on to try my first silent meditation retreat, and didn't speak a word for four days. The breakthrough came on that retreat, when my mind finally settled down long enough to take a good, deep breath. Oh, I thought. This is what people mean when they talk about peace.
Although I carried on with meditation when I could, over time, Busy chipped away at my resolve to live a slower life. Ten years later and I'm still battling my addiction to Busy, fueled by life with two kids and the financial burden of mortgage and debt. It's easy to give in to Busy when you need to pay the bills. So what if I have three jobs, I thought, at least we're getting by.
But of course, I wasn't getting by - I was missing my kids, my husband and a predictable schedule. I was missing life without a knot of stress in my stomach. I was missing baking in the kitchen on Sunday afternoons, and EXERCISE!
By the end of 2015 I realized that life could not go on the way I was living it, and that I needed to get back to the other "B" - Balance. I closed up shop on my Birth Doula business, and just this past week, my professional membership expired. My domain name will also expire early this year. I'm still teaching prenatal classes, but it's a set schedule of one weekend per month - on-call hours are a thing of the past. And of course, there's my full-time job as a researcher, which is quite busy and rewarding.
The thing about Balance is that is takes time to master. There is no highway to peace, and I don't expect my life to be magically different in 2016. But the first step to overcoming any addiction is admitting to the problem - letting my love of Busy show itself, and at the same time, refusing to be its puppet.
I will practice saying No to activities or events that don't serve a specific purpose in my life.
I will practice being present with my children for the time I DO get to spend time with them, letting go of the guilt I feel for the time I don't spend with them.
I will practice putting my Busy energy into helping others - in 2016 I will be matched with a family of refugees, providing three hours of support to them per week, to help them settle here in Canada. I'm excited about this one, because I can also involve my kids in activities with THEIR kids.
I will practice doing things I love, not for the money, but because it makes me happy.
I will practice patience - with myself, with others, and with life in general. Rome wasn't built in a day, and it will take some time to find this Balance thing I seek. As a wise friend recently said: "...it's growth, and growth is good. But it hurts sometimes, like yoga."
Which reminds me...I also need to be doing yoga ;)
What are you going to B in 2016?