We Burn Our Badges of Busyness

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What are we teaching our girls?

You can be anything.
You can do anything.
You can have anything.

Now get going.

There is much to do.
So much that you will never feel like you’ve done it all.

Allow me to introduce you to your new lifetime companion
Her name is “To-Do List”

She will follow you everywhere from now on
She will be there to greet you when you wake
She will hang out near you all day long
And she will be there when you lay your head down to rest
Making sure that you don’t forget her, even as you try to sleep

You will learn to wear her as a badge of honor
This flashing symbol of busy-ness
She thrives on attention,
lives for compliments,
She seeks out acknowledgments of her busyness,
and ability to ‘get it all done’
without a sweat, and with a smile

She is not stingy
She loves to share accolades with her sister super women
Swooning and commenting on their multi-tasking feats
As if their doingness was the latest, most fabulous, all-the-rage hat

Some days you will be tired
And will want to set down the to dos
Take a break from your badge,
Whose weight you notice has become quiet heavy

You will try to unpin it
Pull it, tear it, yank it,
But no matter how hard you try
Your badge of busyness
Will not budge

Your to-do list
Doesn’t take kindly to being set down
Or Forgotten
She is fiercely intent on
Staying alive
Remaining on center stage
Where she can always be seen

What they (we) didn’t tell you
When you accepted your to-do list as a rite of passage
And fashioned on your badge with pride
Was that try as you might
When you tire
No matter how hard you try
You can’t hide
You can’t run
You can’t even pin that relentless list on some other unsuspecting soul

But YOU can choose

Girl, woman, sister
You have a choice to NEVER pick up
This badge of busyness
You have the choice to walk away and NEVER look back
Not because you stop doing and achieving
Which I know is one of your (my) greatest, unspoken fears
But because you know that you don’t need a
Badge of busyness or a never-ending list of to-dos
To prove your worth

Stand tall
Turn on your heel now
Do not follow us
A generation of women who unknowningly ran down the aisle
To marry busy-ness
And ended up with a sense of self
Tied to ‘what I’ve accomplished and gotten done in a day”

Turn away
Run away
And change your sense of self
for the good
of us all

As you turn away
We will burn our badges
And together we will change
The decree of women forever

“Yes I can do anything.”
“Yes I can be anything.”
“Yes I can have anything.”

BUT NO … I DON’T NEED TO DO BE AND HAVE EVERYTHING

I am valuable simply because I am
Even if I never pick up another to do
Even when I am doing nothing
Especially when I am just being
I am worthy

Because I know the truth

I am enough
Simply because I am

And so are you.

Mother.
Sister.
Daughter.
Woman.

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Showing 14 comments

  • Lisa Smith

    I love this poem! I have always hated the word ENOUGH because it doesn’t exist but we are always supposed to strive for it and doomed to fall short. It is just as I am older (50’s now) that I can just be sometimes and not feel guilty. It is not all of the time and other people’s comments can trigger the old response-but I am getting better at “being”.

  • Rajani Bandri

    Dear Christine,
    Thankyou for such a meaningful poem,wonderful message and an amazing reminder most of us need.I have a daughter in college majoring in psychology(who is busy all the time),doing a job,busy with extra activities in between she makes time to have fun with friends.she always talks to me about the to-do lists,I get tired to even hear those but I understand she want to work hard ,go to a grad school.she gets mad when I tell her to slow down,the good thing about her is she is OPEN minded,she listens,I shared your poem with her this morning as soon as she woke up,she listened so deeply,she made me repeat few lines,she GOT it!!!,she said she is going to contemplate on it,she told me How the thought of “doing NOTHING is a INSULT” is ingrained in so many of their generation.I pray that this message is understood deeply and passed on
    to so many(to not only girls and women,but to all humanity).thankyou,thankyou,can’t thankyou enough for this message.

  • Lynnet McKenzie

    Christine, thank you so much for sharing your message. This is SOOO vital for young women (all women) to hear. I have worked myself into the ground over and over. Your poem is absolutely RIGHT ON!
    Thanks and Blessings!
    Lynnet

  • elizabeth bavor

    I have tried to tell all people that I encounter my whole life that the only way to good health, a good life, is to try to SLOW DOWN…
    I like to say the word T-U-R-T-L-E to people and the word G-E-N-T-L-E.
    I love turtles and things that are slower, easier and evenly paced. Listening to the birds or the sound of the wind is so basic and lovely to do.
    I like to eat S-L-O-W-L-Y, speak slower than most people and after a whirlwind
    childhood of appointments, assignments, and trying to fit in with my older siblings, we were in the midst of world chaos always it seemed. I am from the “duck and cover” generation not to mention a constant generation of fear from just weather related issues. Whew! I started kindergarten at age four and that was early for me. I had ballet, voice, piano and violin classes, girl scouts, acted in plays and sang in the choir at church (and rehearsals) and when I wasn’t on patient rounds at the hospitals and nursing homes with my Father on the weekends, I wanted to have friends over and just sit and play with my Barbie. I think I was exhausted before 6th grade and my health wasn’t always that good. We were busy!
    In my older age, I try to take my time in life. I have multiple responsibilities being the only care taker for my now 94 year old Mother and have ben the sole proprietor and worker at my own small hair cutting business for 32 years.
    I’ve done amazing things in my life, had a bit of travel and before I was 25, had 6 different important jobs and college to contend with.
    Now in my later 50’s I wonder where the time went, what all that hustle was about and yes, participated in bra burnings and political discussions on women’s rights through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
    I look at these poor kids now and wonder why the mayhem should continue. Children especially should be able to explore, enjoy and take their young days in life at a slower pace. School is difficult enough for most and every added extra activity puts pressure on their young and growing minds. You can’t force a tree to grow and i am a HUGE believer in letting the ways of nature and nurture from the Universe take their course. Man made dilemmas seem to stir up the whole process in an even swifter manner often not allowing us all to just be.
    Your ideas and teachings are wonderful Christine and I was happy to mentally “BURN MY BADGE OF BUSINESS” years and years ago. i only wish more people, Mothers AND Fathers, Presidents and teachers, just the human RACE would cease to hurry and let us all enjoy this short life on earth and embrace the graces of not only compassion but the slower processes that nature often allows us to embrace. The tornadoes and tsunamis alone have been quick to capture many innocent lives, destroy the routine so many were accustomed to and speed up the processes. We can’t control any of that. Third world countries don’t have the luxuries that us Westerners do. They are forced to take things slowly often, work hard just for food and water to survive.
    If I get to have a few wishes granted they would be for just the lucky humans who have it a little easier, to realize the importance of the quiet, the stillness in life. I’d wish for people to just appreciate the quiet and stillness long enough to be able to listen to and smile while counting our heart beating and appreciate just the magnificence of that.
    OOOO’s to you,
    Elizabeth in Illinois

  • Amanda

    Thank you! I’m immediately tempted to put “do nothing for 5 minutes” on my to-do list! LOL! Doesn’t that speak volumes… I so appreciate your encouragement and reminders to put on our own oxygen masks first. If Mama isn’t happy and healthy, where does that leave everyone else??? Mama HAS to come first! Feed the Goddess to save the planet.

  • Eva

    So important for woman/young woman to read and hear this. Better to burn the badge than burn up in our busyness!

  • Linda R. Jones

    Christine:
    Every morning I get a message from a site called Seasons of Nonviolence. This morning this was the message I got, right along with your message about the Busy-ness Badge. Here it is:
    The thing
    that is really hard,
    and really amazing,
    is giving up on being perfect
    and beginning the work
    of becoming yourself.
    ~ Anna Quindlen
    Practice
    It occurs to me that an incessant demand for perfection is actually an insidious form of violence.
    Today I trade in my need to be perfect for the gift that is authenticity. *****
    Last night I prayed with open heart for some relief from perceptions that have destroyed my peace, joy and sense of self worth for over 6 years. Long story short: It is not the circumstances of my situation that are the problem, but how I view them. Today I see that my best needs to be good enough. I know I am capable of doing what I think needs to be done, because I have done it in the past. I know that I am capable of taking that action. If I am not able to do that now, then perhaps there is a really good reason why. Can I accept that I am doing my best at this moment? Can I make that shift, letting go of the notion that my action or inaction means something about me? (Like I’m weak, screwed up, irrevocably broken.) Can I tell myself a different story? Can I remind myself that I am trusting the knowledge that comes from inside of me? Trusting that knowledge that I have worked so hard to access? Realizing that my nagging mind just might not get the black and white answer that it is hounding me for. Realizing that I do not deserve to be punished because I do not follow the dictates of that part of my mind that wants to be safe at all costs. Trusting that it’s ok to be trusting myself and not knowing “why”. Knowing that I am capable of action and will take it when the time is right. Shifting to the perception that I am strong, capable, loving and lovable, wise, joyful and peaceful. Making that shift will transform my life. oo

  • Andria

    I’ve been circling this conclusion for a few years now. I like the way Chirstine has expressed it in this poem. Espcially the unintended marriage to the To-Do List.
    I was looking at my beautiful tulips this morning. They don’t have to DO anything to be admired. They simply sit there, donating their special beauty to the world.
    Could I simply “do” the same? Simply be? Without any activity?
    Sounds so simple – and yet so impossible. But I’m open to considering the possibility. And I’m thankful Christine has added to my openness.

  • Kathleen

    Thank you thank you thank you for this…

  • Debbie Sayre

    I love the idea that I am more than enough without my “To do List.” which I am ignoring today:)

  • caryll cram

    Wow! I will send it to my daughters-not from me but from who I was. Thank you Caryll

  • Nohra-Cecilia

    Christine, you are an amazing inspirational woman! Thank you for sharing all your writings, philosophy, and great advises with us. I love this part of your article
    “Girl, woman, sister,
    You have a choice to NEVER pick up
    This badge of busyness
    You have the choice to walk away and NEVER look back”. It’s what I just did and I feel wonderful! Now I’m giving myself priority, the stress is not killing me anymore, and because of that I feel younger, healthier, and a much better person! I definitely share with you all what you teach us. Thank you Christine!

  • Sara

    I love this! It is so relieving just to read it. It is funny because I have been pondering this same thing, the busyness of life. I have noticed for some time how my days are made up of lists of things I do and get done, but at night I don’t feel like I really lived that day, I missed connecting to what I did, connecting to my kids and husband. I know there is something missing because I remember being a child and just living! Enjoying my moments, belly laughing with friends, and cuddling up at night and really sleeping deeply. I am with you, it is time for me to toss the busy badge. I am ready for peace.

  • Luz

    Christine,
    Thank you to share this reflexions with all of us! You always touch my heart and make me love me more!
    I know that is your mission.
    I will like to share with you some lines of a song (it is in spanish), that has to do with your poem…
    “…My mother never had a to-do list, because she only did what hearts reminded her”.
    Love,
    Luz Cobos
    México

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