Your friends: In your face or behind your back?

Silhouette of a woman in standing yoga pose at sunset

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During the remodel I didn’t travel. At all. To some extent, put my entire life on hold. I dropped out of golf, started working out at home, scaled back serving on charity boards, took sabbatical from lunches with friends and became very selective on which corporate events I attended for my husband’s job. For all practical purposes, I became a recluse. Wholeheartedly immersing myself all hours, of every day, in the details of the house remodel project. Was it necessary? Yes. Did it work? Famously. Was it balanced? Absolutely not.

As the construction began to wind down, I found myself shifting gears. With the mile-long construction punch list shrinking to shear pages, I felt the urge to immediately focus on everything I had set aside for two and a half years. Logical enough, right?

But in my typical “Death Star seek and conquer” fashion, I started scheduling my writing regiment at the same breakneck pace as the construction project. Marathon creative brainstorming sessions, weeks worth of lunches with estranged friends, running–literally–everywhere I went in order to maximize my time. If that wasn’t enough, I decided to book out-of-town jaunts on the weekends to make up for lost frequent flyer miles.

Good idea? Seemed like it at the time. But when a trusted friend questioned my all in mindset, I replied with a statement that used to rattle around in my head twenty-four- seven. “If I’m not moving, I’m wasting time. I have goals. A huge back log on my life “to do” list. Why in the world would I squander valuable time?

The world through the eyes of a galactic super weapon.

My friend went on. “Ever notice that every sentence you speak either starts, or ends with ‘real quick’ or ‘hurry up’?”


“I quote,” she makes air bunnies with her fingers. “give me a sec. to finish this email. Let me hurry up and take a five minute shower. I have to pee ‘real quick.’ Give me half a minute to take a short phone call.”

My eyes widened.

“And,” her lip curls, a sure sign I’m about to get bamboozled. “You’ve run, not jogged or walked, but sprinted between every one of these ‘hurry-up’ errands. As a matter of fact, the last time you double-timed it up the stairs, I’m pretty sure I saw you drop and do ten burpees.”

Busted. My cheeks burned.

“Listen,” she said. “Striving towards goals is a good thing. It’s actually one of characteristics I really admire about you. But this zero or one hundred percent thing you have going on, is never going to work.”

“Worked on the house.” Worked in flying.

“Okay,” she laughed. “So you have stamina. But the project only lasted about three years. Do you really want to keep up this pace for the rest of your life?”


“Think about it. You can keep turning and burning until you’re face down with the subs in the pool. Or…” her voice jumped a few octaves. “You can go at half speed, and stop playing perpetual catch up.”

Double gulp.

After this conversation, I took a hard look at the other side of my personality. The part that apparently believes I’m only valuable if I’m doing something productive. Yeesh. Is that messed up message still hanging around? I was sure I removed that programing a long time ago. Looks like I still had work to do.

I sucked a series of monster breaths and decided to try a different approach. Truth is I’m far better at everything I do when I allow life’s events to naturally unfold. These days, if an unexpected diversion comes along, I take a minute, look around and ask myself if there is any information in this situation that I need in order to move forward. If the answer is yes, I wait. Yes. Me. Ms. Multitask. I hold still, get quiet and wait for the lessons to show themselves. Understanding that if I pay attention, the very information I’m chasing after, will come and propel me in the direction I’m meant to go.

My dear friend was right. Rushing, hurrying, spinning, vibrating isn’t actually living. It feels that way for awhile, but eventually the rush fades, and I wind up deflated, disappointed and exhausted.

E.L. Chappel author of Spirit Dance/Storm Makers/Risk

About your friends, how do you choose them? Straight up or sugarcoated?

Cruising in third gear.

aka The Glamorous

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