by Theresa Wells
Last week was my birthday. I’m not saying this to garner belated birthday wishes, but rather to set the context for the story I will tell. Last week was my birthday, you see, and a colleague stopped me in the halls to wish me happy birthday.
I said thank you and smiled – and then I said I didn’t really have time to have a birthday this year. They laughed, and so did I, but the joke was really on me, since I wasn’t actually kidding.
I have never been busier in my life than I am today, and every day for the last several months. Between my professional role, freelance work, still occasionally puffing a bit of oxygen and creative thought into the blog, the zoo I run and my daughter I am so busy that I don’t have time for things like my birthday…or so I thought.
I left that conversation with my colleague and began to think about how often I have said recently that I was too busy to do something – usually something fun, frivolous and indulgent. When the lovely and charming Arlene Dickinson came to speak in Fort McMurray she spoke a bit about work-life balance and how this is a different concept for everyone, as balance is a relative term and everyone finds their own sense of balance. This resonated deeply with me as I am a person who throws herself into her work, tumbling headfirst and happily into the swirl of busy-ness. But as I walked away from my colleague my thoughts grew troubled as I realized that I had become off-balance somehow, like a washing machine tilting to one side and the thumping a warning of impending disaster. I needed to do something.
A few weeks before I had told my daughter that we could not attend the concert in Edmonton for which we had bought tickets. And I hadn’t purchased just any tickets, but the high-end, uber-expensive, meet-the-band, VIP experience tickets – but we weren’t going to go this past weekend because I had decided I was too busy. Nobody had told me not to go, or that I couldn’t afford the time. No, it was a limit I placed on myself, and I had told my understanding, if disappointed, child that we couldn’t go.
But late on my birthday I texted her and told her she should think about what she wanted to wear to the concert, because we were going. We were going to throw a few things in a bag and drive down the highway, staying in a hotel I booked at the last moment (because I had cancelled the first hotel I had booked, as I was far too busy to go to silly things like concerts). We would go shopping and see the concert and spend some time together just doing fun, frivolous and indulgent things.
And so we did. Thanks to my accommodating zoo-sitter who agreed to tend the gang on short notice, we spent a marvellous weekend in Edmonton, taking in an amazing concert, buying far too many shoes at Designer Shoe Warehouse and talking, laughing and just being together for hours in a car.
On Sunday, just before we were about to leave Edmonton after an incredible weekend, we stopped to fill the car with gas. My daughter mentioned that there is an IHOP in Edmonton, a chain we had discovered last year in Orlando and fallen in deep lust with over their pancakes and omelettes. Running through my head was the to-do list for when I got home on Sunday, the calls to make, the emails to send, the things to write – but when I went to say the words “I am too busy to do that today”, I found myself instead saying “okay kiddo, put it into the GPS and let’s go to IHOP” – and so we did, because life is too short to not have time.
Follow me on Twitter @mcmurraymusings