If I had to define busy-ness, it would be a state of conscious presence--an active decision to participate in the now.
My bad habits are the perfect example of what not to do.
You know the scene. Its 8:30 on a Friday night. No plans. No possibility of human interaction as the husband's brain is a few hundred pages into a medical text. (And no, your cats don't count as human interaction even though you can hold a conversation with them. They are not talking to you. They are in fact very clearly talking to one another about you.) You're in sweats, or worse, a nightgown (guilty!), slumped into the creases of the couch that by now are neatly compacted to the perfect outline of your buttocks. Your eyes are watery and bloodshot from adjusting to the various colors and movements of each channel as you mindlessly click the channel up button. (I like to think that my choice to click up denotes a positive outlook on life and general steadiness of character. Discuss.) You might be drooling. Your mouth is most definitely ajar; tongue visible, resting heavily on your bottom teeth. You pause on a show about people called the Hudderites. You are strangely fascinated by their odd accent, deadpan demeanor, and love of beef jerky. Commercial break. You go into autopilot and continue to click the channels up without even realizing it. Five minutes later, you remember that you had just found something interesting to watch, but oddly can't seem to reach back into the endless depths of your short-term memory and recollect what you had been
DO NOT DO THIS.
Television will make you dumb. And, a little fat. But, mostly just dumb.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE television, but only when it is watched because of a conscious decision to enjoy a particular show. You should watch TV on a schedule based on the shows you enjoy. When they are over, turn the television off. Channel surfing is not really watching TV. Its a bad reflex. Clicking through the channels gives you the feeling of doing something, but there is nothing engaging about it.
Step away from the remote.
TIME OUT while I prove to you just how much I love television. I watch the Kardashians every Sunday night at 9pm and will sometimes even watch the marathon leading up to the new episode if I have fallen behind. There is no shame in having one TV vice. The Ks are mine.
I also love anything with Gordon Ramsey, because both W and I have a HUGE crush on him. I love Bones, New Girl, 30 Rock, and Castle. I enjoy my Bravo shows as well, Flipping Out and Top Chef. gossipgirl. And, the best show out there: Project Runway.
Adjusting my neck be-ard!
This is a bit embarrassing. But here I am, dear friends, exposing my soul and deepest, darkest secrets to you all. TIME IN.
How to Stay Busy 101
Busy suggestion #1: Start cooking--from scratch! This past weekend, I filled the lameness of not having a single thing to do on a hopping Friday night by making spaghetti meat sauce from scratch (Cap's recipe). There was lots of chopping, lots of sauteing, lots of dirtying of dishes. It took a solid hour to prep and finally have simmering my completed sauce. By then, I had a pile of dirty dishes that needed to be washed (alas, no dishwasher). I filled the hour while the sauce simmered away with washing dishes.
Of course it doesn't take an hour to wash dishes (unless you do like I used to do and use TV as a distraction: I would wash during the commercial breaks. That is probably not healthy...). So I did what any normal 25 year-old professional would with nothing else to do on a Friday night. I dusted off Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and fled to Hogwarts. Indeed, I was tempted to turn on the television, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione are much more fulfilling companions.
Busy suggestion #2: Watch television. Wait--what?! I know. I am a big, fat liar. Not. It is OK to watch TV. Friday night, after dinner was consumed and cleaned up, the whole evening stretched before me, dark and empty, mocking my solitude. I made a conscious decision to turn on the television and search for a movie to watch. I gave myself a time limit--30 minutes to find something engaging and enjoyable. If I didn't find it, I was to turn it off and read, clean, or weep. I found My Sister's Keeper, which I had never seen. It was definitely not enjoyable, but considering that the front of my t-shirt was soaked with tears, my eyes were nearly swollen shut, and I was as blotchy as a newborn fresh from the womb, it can be deduced that it was engaging.
Busy suggestion #3: Read/Research. Expand your mind and read! Whether its the newest best seller or an old favorite like HP, escaping to a literary world is much healthier than zombie-posing in front of the TV. Research. Want to re-do some furniture or rework your living room? Want to start cooking healthy? How about a new workout regime? There are thousands of blogs out there with really creative people behind them. Start following a few and get inspired. Facebook stalking does NOT count as research. Don't let scrolling through the interweb become your tongue-lolling downfall like TV. It is just as dangerous, unsatisfactory, and counter-productive.
Busy suggestion #4: Study breaks. Force the medical student to take a study break. They will most likely need it and might just thank you later (if, of course, you poke and prod and explain to them how much better they feel for leaving the desk and books for some fresh air). On Sunday, I made W go to the farmer's market, also known as Heaven. I love to stick my face in the mound of peppers and breath deeply. (I've never really considered how that might look until now...) W is very disappointed in me when I do this. He reminds me that the sweet pepper I am clutching to my appreciative nose will be purchased by someone (who is not me, since I already have a bag full) and that I probably shouldn't be rubbing it all over my face. If you learn anything from this blog, let it be this: Wash your produce, people.
Busy suggestion #5: LEAVE. Just get out of the house. Go for a walk. Run (yeah, right). Get in the car. Drive. Just move and eventually you will figure out what to do.
Sidenote: When I do this, I tend to find myself in the parking lot of some type of shopping establishment: antique shop, Gabriel Brother's (dear God, save me), TJMAXX, Home Goods, Target. Before I know it, I'm at the checkout counter. It is then, after the card has been swiped, that I awake from the nightmare that is retail addiction and mentally retrace my steps to figure out where it was that it all went horribly wrong. THIS is NOT healthy. However, it is distracting and for me, as far from punishment as you can get. I am one of those unfortunate people who never have buyer's remorse and is really good at justifying everything. I daily curse my exceptional rationalizing skills. I should have been a lawyer! (When I am ready to admit to myself just how unhealthy this habit is without spiraling into a nervous breakdown or questioning my very existence, I will do a post on my abusive tendencies towards my submissive bank account.)
Busy suggestion #6: Clean. It is exercise (sort of) and does have the ability to make you feel good all under. There really is no better feeling than a clean house. I mean, have you ever spent three hours hardcore scrubbing, vacuuming, mopping, etc. and regretted it? I didn't think so. Could you say the same about channel surfing or interwebbing? My point exactly.
Busy suggestion #7: Join a club. Cap and I will be testing this one out on Thursday when we attend out first ever Junior League meeting. I already play Bunko once a month with a bunch of women who know how to have a good time. Its sad when the 60 year olds (who have been filling your glass all night) have to drive you home..... I also am trying to talk myself into taking an adult ballet class for beginners. We will keep you posted!
What do you do to stay busy?