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Slices of Life - Get busy with it

December 7, 2012
Jill Pertler - Columnist , Traer Star-Clipper

Each year at about this time, I shop for an important household item: the kitchen calendar. This is no small task. Much like Goldilocks and her porridge, I seek to find a calendar that is just right. One key feature is extra big squares allotted for each day. We need large squares because we have scores of scheduling stuff to write in our white space.

We hang our calendar in a prominent location in the kitchen because it is an important piece of property. It is the singular item within our home that tells us where to go and what to do. A simple glance lets us know if we are headed to the orthodontist or a soccer game, or maybe both.

At our house, if it ain't on the calendar, it ain't gonna happen. We are busy. Very busy. Extremely so. You could say we are caught up in and consumed with the business of busyness. It is what defines us as people, as a society even.

It's better than a Cadillac in your driveway or a two-carat diamond on your finger. It is Beverly Hills. A fine vintage wine. A yacht on the French Riviera. It is worth more than the wealth of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates combined. It coordinates with everything. It never goes out of style or season.

Busy it's the new black. And it's taken on new meaning within our current culture steeped in status and prestige and importance oh, my.

There's only one teensy problem (as I see it). Mr. Busy is selfish and leaves no room for anything besides himself. You cannot be anything but busy when you are busy. This leads to something I call autopilot a state where we are so intent on getting the darn job done for gosh sakes that we fail to pay attention to what is happening right here and right now. When we switch our gears over to autopilot, we aren't experiencing life; we are merely going through the motions. In short, we lose the moment.

And when you add it all up, moments are all we have, really.

Ever "listened" to your son (or daughter), nodded and smiled and then realized you had no idea what they'd just said? How about your spouse? Yeah, me neither.

We are entering the holiday season. A time of giving. And I have a challenge.

It has nothing to do with how busy you are. Even if you are the busiest person on the block, I'm not asking you to change your activity levels, social commitments or workload. The challenge is simpler and more complex than that.

You can't stop doing what you are doing. The mortgage must get paid. The kids have to get to basketball practice. The laundry isn't going to fold itself. Supper has to get on the table. You've got a calendar to fill before you sleep. Yada yada. I get it.

My challenge is all about giving this holiday season. And I'm not talking presents. I'm talking presence.

Busy has moved into our homes and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It's up to us to get busy with it so we are able to traverse beyond busy and come to rest on what really matters the moment.

The moment with our children as we are tucking them into bed at night. The moment at dinner when your first grader is telling you about his day at school and you have the opportunity to listen really listen. The moment when your spouse comes in the back door calling your name. The moment when you step into the shower and the warm water embraces your skin and you give thanks because many people start their day without the luxury of a hot shower. Or children's stories at the dinner table. Or the privilege of being busy with things like hockey practice and piano lessons.

This year, give yourself and others the gift of your presence. It isn't as easy as it sounds. Isn't that usually the case with anything worth doing?

How about it are you up for a challenge?

Follow Slices of Life on Facebook and hit Like (please). Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" Email her at; or visit her on her updated website at



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