Thursday, June 24, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

From Jo Floyd Lucas

It seems we’re living in a pressure cooker atmosphere these days, doesn’t it? I’ve heard from quite a few friends lately that we all seem to be burdened by more than our fair share of troubles and turmoil at the moment. Either we’re overloaded with personal issues or overloaded with professional issues, or both. Even if neither of those seems to be the case, the environmental disaster in the gulf has broken the hearts of many others.

Maybe, as some would say, this roiling atmosphere is being caused by the planetary formations right now. It’s possible that the intensity of our situations is magnified by the summer solstice. Some have even suggested that God is trying to tell us something. Me? I’ve given up on the explanations. Why ask why?

I have come to realize, to my great consternation, that I cannot control much, if any, of that which is going on around me, but I’ve also realized, with great relief, that I can mitigate the angst by my response to the turmoil.

How do you respond? By staying busy, so as not to notice your own discomfort? By becoming grouchy, short, or emotionally distant from your loved ones, so as not to feel the pain? By placing blame, so as not to feel responsible? All of these responses serve to momentarily assuage the feelings, but lead us straight to the edge of the cliff in the long run. Back away from the cliff, friends.

Take care of yourselves.

A few months ago, I was convinced that spare time was for others. Not me. I was the consummate homemaker, mother, grandmother, friend, volunteer, and community activist. I was too busy. Busy, busy, busy. Deep down, I knew I was overloaded, but life is sneaky that way. Despite our best efforts to live with intent, little by little we find ourselves giving in to the mounting pressures. My response to the stress causing me to feel exhausted, overweight, and mentally fragmented? Ignore it and move on! Really. Well, we can only ignore our situation for so long before we are finally forced to see the necessity to change.

To some, this insight comes over time. To some, it comes as a response to illness or injury. To others, this insight comes instantly without explanation. That’s how it was for me. It was like someone flipped a switch inside my head. That’s how instant and absolute it was. I was doing something quite mundane (unloading groceries) when I suddenly realized I had been unkind…to myself. I would never have let anyone treat a friend or loved one the way I had treated myself. In that instant, as corny and simplistic as it sounds, I changed.

I immediately determined that I would begin to allow myself to do three things; enjoy nature again (as I had done so completely and utterly as a child), eat foods that nourished my body and mind (not just those that were on hand or convenient), and allow myself more time to read for pleasure (‘pleasure’ often meaning in pursuit of knowledge, which I crave like sugar). Three little things I gave myself permission to do.

The concept of ‘spare time’ is, of course, a fallacy. We all have the same amount of time each day. We all structure this time according to our own wants, needs, and interests. Not a minute of it is extra, and each one is precious. Some of those minutes are set aside to care for your loved ones, so put your name on that list.

When was the last time you took a walk…alone? Yes, alone. Completely alone. No fair walking the dog or pushing the baby carriage. No iPod. No phone. Take a short walk and listen, instead, to the glorious music of nature. Walk with your body erect and your head high. It takes only as long as you want…give yourself fifteen minutes to experience something as wondrously simple as the honey bee on the flower. Your soul will thank you.

When was the last time you took joy in preparing food that grew from the earth? Smelling a melon, slicing a ripe tomato, or eating a few berries can bring so much more satisfaction to your body than unwrapping a package. Wean yourself off processed foods and turn back to the foods most of us used to eat...real foods. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your body responds.

When was the last time you picked up a book for the sheer joy of discovering the way the words roll off your tongue? Even children’s books are sometimes written with the skill of a poet, and shouldn’t be overlooked as great literature. From Rumi to Redbook to Dr. Seuss, enjoy a few words for your own pleasure each day. Your mind will be sharper and your mood brighter.

Give yourself permission to be on your list of loved ones. Find the three things you want to allow yourself to do, then do those things--guilt-free. We may not be able to solve all the problems we’re faced with, but if we pay more attention to our own well being, maybe we’ll create a little more peace within ourselves, be just a little bit healthier, and receive just a little more insight in the process.

As my dear friend, Freddy, said so well:

Give love
Give love
Give love

Love dares you to care
for the people on the edge
of the night, and

Love dares you to change
our way of caring
about ourselves.

This is our last dance.
This is ourselves...
under pressure.


  1. Great song! By the way I did pick up a book today and I am going to read. My friend called from KC and we made a lunch date for tomorrow AND my neighbor brought over zuchini,onions,cucumbers and peppers and YES, I am going to be preparing fresh veggies tonight for dinner and I might just take a walk! You are an inspiration Jo! Thanks for the post~~~~~lots of love coming your way!

  2. Looks like you've finally put yourself on the list, Vicki. Way to go!

    I love that you're meeting a friend for lunch tomorrow...enjoy the precious time with her!

  3. Oh yeah. Why ask why?

    This is a great post full of humanity and sanity. That's you, Jo - see why I admire you so much??

    I, too, walk every day. I have my camera with me, but I don't believe it interferes with my experience. Am I right about that one? Spending time outdoors is a major component of my Plan to Stay Sane. Oh yeah.

    Because I enjoy believing that the planets are co-creators of our reality, I'm very interested in this weekend's huge event. Here's a link to a powerful, poetic (not too technical) description of the energies at hand.

    We are all reinventing ourselves. You're spot on, figuring out how to nourish yourself. You are right on the money. I salute you.


  4. I love Queen, by the way. Great choice.

  5. Reya, I think your camera is an extension of you. I love seeing the world through your lens! You are hereby the exception to the rule.

    I love LOVE the link you sent. How very, incredibly, exactly accurate. "There is a price for every gain." Oh, yes.

    I hope that everyone who reads my post will also read the link from you.

    Many thanks for your gracious comments...and yep, that's Queen.

  6. Jo, you've done it again in expressing so beautifully what many of us feel, but can't put into words.
    I think we're conditioned from childhood to feel guilty if we take time for ourselves and don't put others first.
    Thanks for the reminder that we need to love ourselves first before we can properly love others.
    You ROCK!

  7. Thanks, Lindi-Loo!

    It's just like the airlines say, "Be sure to adjust your own oxygen mask before attempting to help others."

    I think you're right about the conditioning, and I think it's aimed equally at males and females in our culture. It takes differents forms for each gender, but the results are equally disastrous.

    Let's get rid of that Guilt Factor now!

  8. Jo. Thanks for the comments. In my case, no pressure here. A virtual paragon of calm. Me. Not. Caution. Stand well clear. He's going to BLOWWWWWWWW!

  9. Dubby. Remember, the next week will come and go. Ultimately, no one will notice what isn't yet done. What they WILL notice is a guy who's excited about the incredible art happening in Springfield and at Smart Group and Gallery.

    Relax and enJOY it!

  10. Oh Jo, I'm so glad you found my blog or I never would have found this one. A group of people contributing positive energy. This rocks! I too have been learning this wonderful thing called taking care of myself first. I had to learn to do it a little more dramatically, but it works all the same. The oxygen mask analogy is perfect. Thank you so much for directing me here.

  11. My pleasure, Delana. I'm thoroughly enjoying Du Jour! If I ever toss it all for another country, it WILL be France!

    I hope to connect more in the future. You contribute greatly to the conversation!


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