When we got to Boise in August 2018, we didn’t have jobs waiting for us. This financial impediment was a little nerve-racking, since we still had rent and debt, not to mention mouths to feed. Somehow (thank Universe) we had enough money coming in from freelancing and side gigs to make do for the first couple of months.
While on the hunt for full-time jobs, Collin and I spent much of our time driving around, exploring our new city. I wish I had realized then how FREE we were!
Without having to punch the clock for eight-hour shifts, Collin and I filled our days with things that were really important to us. In particular, we tried to make our kids’ transitions to a new place as painless as possible.
When school started, we focused on making sure that they had everything they needed and knew that they had our complete support. I was able to take the kids to school and pick them up, no problem.
[Silently, this was always a dream of mine. To be able to take my children to school in the morning and scoop them in the afternoon, to me, was the epitome of a present mother. (We all have our things.) What a gift this time was.]
When October rolled around, however, the Universe decided that it was time we got jobs! HELLO RELIEF. But also HELLO STRESS.
Without jobs, we didn’t have to worry about getting up early to make it to “the office” by a certain time. Without jobs, we didn’t have parent guilt about sending Caroline to daycare. Without jobs, we didn’t have to worry about how the older kids were getting to and from school. Without jobs, we didn’t need a second car. Without jobs, we didn’t have to acclimate to a new work environment.
Sure, we’d be able to pay for food, shelter, and other niceties. Buuuuut, I still wasn’t convinced that the positive outweighed the negative.
Of course, we started our new jobs and they ended up being AWESOME AF. We met the coolest people, who became our close friends, and our employers provided the care, understanding, and flexibility that good companies should! (Unfortunately, the parent guilt never went away, but I don’t think I ever expected it to.)
With a new commute, I spent a decent amount of time in the car, so I began listening to audiobooks. One such book was Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver, mentioned in my last post, “minimizing stuff…,” as the creator of Project 333.
The idea behind Soulful Simplicity is that minimalism is more than just getting rid of clothes and clutter. It’s also about unloading your plate that tends to be piled high with this, that, and the other. It’s about letting go of activities, commitments, and people that no longer serve you.
Why would you waste your life doing things that stress you out? Why not fill your life with all of the things that light you up!?
It’s easy to get sucked into the rat race and feel like you need to constantly be doing SOMETHING. In our society, being busy is almost a badge of honor.
Maybe having multiple balls in the air at once is a symbol of importance or self-worth? Or maybe it’s a chronic case of FOMO (aka fear of missing out).
For me, busyness was a combination of both. I didn’t want to miss out on anything and having so many events in my datebook made me feel important.
It’s been an issue for me for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, I never wanted to be absent from school because something COOL always seemed to happen when I wasn’t there.
As I got older, I felt like I had to be everywhere all the time. I couldn’t bear the thought of something big happening without me being there to see it.
This fear would later manifest itself in various ways. It would worm its way into my relationships with people and create turmoil. It would cause me immense stress and take its toll physically and mentally.
I’d overbook my schedule. I’d overcommit myself to others. I’d stay out later than I said I would. I ran myself ragged, and on fumes most of the time.
I would try to pack as many activities as possible into each day, which didn’t leave much wiggle room between events. I would end up arriving late (later than usual… #islandtime) or have to cancel altogether. It would make me feel awful. If I wasn’t disappointing the host of the event or friends, at the very least I was disappointing myself.
It also had a negative impact on my finances! I racked up so much credit card debt by buying tickets to concerts and sporting events, food and drinks, and PARKING FEES.
It was draining, but I told myself that it was worth it.
But what Soulful Simplicity and Courtney Carver showed me was that I didn’t have to be busy all of the time. In fact, being “busy” was super dumb! And I needed to knock it off!
Why on earth was I pushing myself to make these appearances when it would ultimately make me physically ill and probably disappoint someone?
So, little by little, I started saying “no.”
I consciously removed the word itself—BUSY—from my vocabulary. (This post doesn’t count. :D) I dare you to try this because I bet you a cookie that you say it (and believe it) way more than you think you do.
But guess what! You are not owned by your To-Do List. In fact, the next time you get out your list, instead of adding things to it, I want you to cross a couple things off—without having done them. Just quietly remove them.
Think to yourself (preferably in a British accent), “No, I do not believe I will be doing any of those things today, thank you.”
Now, replace the ones you removed with things that bring you joy. (e.g., a cup of coffee on the patio, a look-see at your favorite trashy mag, a walk on the beach, playtime with your pup, jumping on the trampoline with your kiddo, etc.)
THAT LIST is looking a lot better, huh? Maybe even making you smile? Excited for the day?
Because real talk: Life is what you make it.
Don’t stand in your own way. Don’t follow “the rules” that “society” has set out for you. You want to travel, but can’t because you’re stuck at a thankless 9-to-5er that makes you miserable? Sell all of your stuff, become a freelancer, buy a hippie van, and get outta here!
It’s time we make space in our lives for the things we love by getting rid of the things we don’t.