A friend recently told me she had banned the word “busy” from her vocabulary, and it made me pause (and give her mad mental props as I struggled to ditch the words “try” and “should” from mine). It echoed back to me when another friend claimed she wanted to join in a WANDER but she couldn’t because she was busy.

Because when we are called to do something but say we’re too “busy,” we are actually devaluing ourselves and our own interests, identity and beliefs. It sends a message that we aren’t worthy of honoring ourselves. And there is such underlying shame and judgement in the OTHER person who is choosing to not be “busy” and putting herself selfishly in front of other tasks or obligations. Life is full of things that can hold priority over our own needs, wants and desires. There will always be something more pressing, more important, more necessary — or guilt-inducing than setting aside a few hours to honor ourselves and HOLD SPACE for something that will feed, nurture, cultivate and cure our soul.

Because busy-ness is a loaded word. It implies filling time and being buried. Stress, anxiety and a feeling of scatteredness that need NOT define anyone’s life. The expectation and accompanying shame of not succumbing to the overprogrammed life that leads to busy-ness is akin to the FOMO (“fear of missing out”) that drives a huge amount of social media envy and “keeping up with the Jones” comparison. But in reality, you are on no one’s clock but your own. There’s a wry saying among lightworkers: “If you’re too busy to meditate for 20 minutes then you should do it for an hour.”

So be brave. Push the guilt aside and tell yourself that you ARE worth it. Don’t feel bad or ashamed for wanting to follow your heart, choose joy over responsibility — or worse, obligation. Don’t allow the shame of “good enough” rob you of the chance to be unencumbered and fancy free for a few hours.

There’s something sacred and soul-honoring about saying: “Stop.” Of recognizing, “when I have a few crucial hours to myself, I will return to you a kinder, gentler, more appreciative and relaxed ME.” Encourage your loved ones to honor that space around you. Don’t deny yourself the right to be light and free. To set aside all the weightiness and choose connection, turn off the cell phone, calendar reminders, overprogramming and alarms. Stillness. Laughter. Being present. Feeling the sun on your face. Inhaling the icy freshness of air off the mountains. Looking someone in the eye instead of burying your face in your cell phone. These are things that truly matter.

This season……Don’t be busy. Be free.

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