Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Putting Busy in Its Place

Last week, I wrote again about grooving on the busy drug. The whole world seems to reward those of us who manage to always be on the go with a million balls in the air. I find myself, year after year, immersed in new projects so that my down time looks a lot like my time at the day job, only with different task masters.

Yes, sometimes, I am my own task master as no one forces me to sign up for new classes and new certifications. Let’s face it. I could be perfectly content to do what I do forty hours per week until I retire, but the voice in my head often urges me to learn new skills and tack a few more initials onto my name… just in case.

We live in a world with few guarantees. So often, people who have spent 30+ years in one position with one company find themselves trying  to reinvent themselves in the work force. There is a voice in my head that says hey, you never know. What feels certain and safe today may implode next week. Better to increase the job skills and network now. So while it is me that pulls the trigger and registers for new classes in the name of filling my continuing ed requirements, it isn’t necessarily me pushing myself.

Deep down, it is fear. What if? What if I find myself back in the job market in my 50s? What if the rug that I stand so securely on today gets ripped out from under me tomorrow, or next month, or next year?

Don’t  get me wrong. I am a perpetual student. I am a total geek when you get down to my core. I love learning and trying new things. I even love textbooks! The fatter the better! Every September I have the urge to register for classes. And not just fun classes like pottery and photography at the local community ed department at the college across town. No, I have a deep urge to register for algebra, chem and Spanish III!

This core geekiness has served me well. When I went for my coding certification after 20 years in the medical industry, I knew there would be the opportunity to take more classes. We are required to take a certain number of continuing education units each year. In the name of continuing ed, I have gone on to get my billing, practice management and instructor certifications. They have opened up new and interesting doors for me and I have been able to do some side projects as a substitute instructor, speaker and most recently textbook contributor.

And it continues. I am currently immersed in an auditing course which I find simultaneously interesting and terrifying when I stop to think of the 5 1/2 hour exam at the end of it! 😳

This class and exam, as well as the additional textbook projects have added to my busy and my stress levels this summer. I feel torn when I see my bookshelves filled with beautiful fat epic novels that will sweep me away for days on end. I feel deprived when I see my notebooks and rough drafts waiting for my attention. I come home from the day job exhausted so I focus all my spare time on the weekends to studying something that no one is forcing me to learn. And I see all my friends on social media having a great time in the final weeks of summer… Yet, I keep focusing on the prize at the end and the months of lounging on the couch with a good book or ten that I plan on treating myself to the moment it is over.

We are all facing our own busy.  The trick is to choose your busy wisely. Are you enjoying yourself? Are you going to benefit in the short term from this bout of busy? Is there an end in sight?

Busy can’t be a forever 24/7 thing or we will completely burn out. Balance your busy with quiet, and joy, and stretches of time with nothing on your plate. Wallow in the down time. Recharge.

Busy, in and of itself, is not something any of us should aspire to be. Busy takes away from the good stuff. ❤️


  1. Anonymous

    You are so ya.

  2. Rosemary Reader and Writer

    Cheryl, it’s wonderful that you love learning. I teach in adult education and one of the myths is that AE students all ‘want to be there’. The fact is that a lot of them have to be there, for career reasons, or because they’ve been sent by the job centre.

  3. Cheryl, I couldn’t agree more. We are always focused on the busy-ness of our lives, and that in itself is very taxing. Just think about all of the things on a todo list certainly drives me crazy and often I yearn for a momentary escape from things, which more often then not I take without realizing or enjoying because of the stress.

    I hope you have managed to find some downtime and enjoy a few of those books you have been putting off.

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