I used to think my friend Kevin’s life was The Rule –  he works a regular 7-4 job during the week, focuses on chores, house projects and volunteer work in the evenings, then takes off to the mountains for the weekend to ski or backpack.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

I thought it was “the” life a single 30-something should have living in the Pacific  Northwest. I wanted to be a mountain girl every weekend, getting views of mountaintops rarely seen in person and fantastic wildnerness adventures.

I tried it. I was exhausted. And I realized I’m not Kevin. In fact, assessing the lifestyles of my other friends, none of us are “Kevin.” He’s The Exception.

While we both have common interests, mutual friends, are homeowners with plenty of projects and are volunteers in the community, even for the same organization, I’ve realized I just lead a different life.

I definitely not just sitting at home waiting for someone to ask me to go hiking. I find myself booking girls weekends, planning hours-long bike rides on Saturday mornings, using 16 hours of sunlight in July to work in my gardens, or popping over to the city in the evening to visit friends. I’ve realized that I’ve chosen to do these things because I enjoy them as much as I enjoy the mountains.

So why do I feel so guilty for being so busy? Why do I feel like I should be there instead of here?

A blog I closely follow, semi-rad.comrecently posted about how unconnected we are with each other because we are so busy thinking about being elsewhere. Then I realized all last year I’d been collecting other articles about just that:

New York Times: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/

Right Sized Life: http://rightsizedlife.com/

Huff Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erin-henry/new-years-resolutions_b_2264681.html

As I started exploring the Busy Trap idea in my own life, my theory about Kevin came up but it took on another meaning. Is he now the Rule or is he still the Exception?

Ideally, I think, his lifestyle is what most people want – to focus on what we love. For him, it’s the outdoors. For others, it’s family, dogs, farming, a new business, jobs they enjoy and don’t feel like jobs. But we all get so caught up in our phones, our schedules, our must-haves and need-to-do’s, we lose sight of our end goal. Or forget to stop to take a breath.

When I look at my calendar sometimes and realize I haven’t been home for six weeks and something doesn’t feel right (like what happened last July), that’s the time to step back and reassess. What do I want out of life right now? What am I taking away from these experiences? Is this supposed to be what it is?

A few points from the Huffington Post article help explore these ideas:

Your life is never good enough until you decide you are good enough — just as you are. Yep, right now, in this moment. Not once you’ve landed your dream job, written your book or lost the chub rub between your thighs. Right now. Do I need to say it again? Right now.

Right now, my crazy life is what it is. I work hard and I play hard. And I love it (or do I?). But I need to stop wishing I was there when I’m here. Yet I need to question WHY I’m wishing I was there when I’m here. During what moments do I have that thought?

Ever since high school, my life has been filled with go-go-go energy. It’s generational. My grandfather passed it to my mother, who passed it to me and my sister.  It’s made me who I am today. Who I am today is because of choices I made five years ago. In five years, I will be different because of my choices I make today.

If anything I have learned the past few years, it has to been to be present and aware. Pay attention to red flags. Follow intuition when my  gut is telling me the obvious choice. It’s never steered me wrong. But the gut has been quiet lately. Almost too quiet.

Goals are good, but what I’m really seeking to achieve is the feeling I want to feel when I get to where I want to go. I want to feel safe, happy, loving, fulfilled and peaceful. Getting the most exciting job of my career last year and moving to fantasyland didn’t bring those feelings. I had to learn to blossom them on my own. How? By recognizing how I want to feel all the time and doing more things that make me feel that way. Easy breezy, right?

This is a little harder.

I find many of my friends have a passion for something – backpacking, biking, skiing, farming, rock climbing, owning their own business. I feel I’m still trying to find that passion – something I want to singularly eat, drink and breathe. But nothing I can think of is pushing me to pursue something else right now.

Right now, I thrive on listening to tribal elders talk, witnessing the successes of my tribes, waking up in a tent to watch the sunrise, enjoying the energy and noise of the city, planning trips with friends, and ending the day head-to-toe filthy in dirt, with hands and limbs sore from digging, hauling and moving stuff around the yard. This is who I am. Right now, my energy seems to be my passion.

But I’m tired. Really tired. I was on the move often in 2012. I have art I want to create, woodworking projects to build, dances to learn, food to explore and people to meet.

I know deep down that there will be some monumental change in the next five years. I’m not sure what it will be, but it will be obvious. I think I’m craving change. My busyness is keeping me from focusing on what that could be.

But right now, I’m recognizing that there has been a lot of unnecessary (or is it necessary?) noise in my head that has overruled the quiet more meaningful singular voice that says, “Hey, stop. Step back. Look at what you have. Be grateful. And say ‘No’ once in a while.”

As for my final assessment about Kevin, his lifestyle is as essential to him as the air he breathes. He is neither the Rule nor the Exception. He just is.

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