A few years ago, when I was in the thick of my busy PR consultant life, raising my young family and trying to do everything for everyone around me, I found myself crying out – silently – wouldn’t it be nice to be a Human BEing for a while instead of a Human DOing?

I thought that sounded quite appealing, although I wasn’t quite sure what it meant.

All I knew was my entire life was rush-rush-rush.

I was constantly running from one thing to the next. I would crash into bed each night completely exhausted, wondering where the day went, and then would get up the next morning to barrel out of bed and do it all over again.

I had lost myself in the whole thing.

Yes, my life was good, don’t get me wrong. From the outside I was a successful, busy, PR consultant, managing issues for companies and organizations large and small; happily securing photo ops and sound bites for my clients; writing high-profile speeches and media content on matters of great economic and corporate importance.

I was busily part of a family of four, raising two young daughters and ensuring they always had the most life had to offer with gymnastics and swimming, dance and music, school concerts and weekend birthday parties filling our every waking moment.

Then one day I decided I really wanted to slow down – just for a moment.

What was the whole rush for anyway? But I had no idea how I would do things differently. Absolutely no clue how I could partially slow down without giving anything up. Because truth be told, I have always loved the rush of a ridiculous deadline, fitting more into my day than sounded humanly possible, and pulling off yet another “birthday party of the year” for my growing daughters.

And I wasn’t unhappy.

Just exhausted.

Really, really, tired.

So, before this article gets super crazy long – the short story is we uprooted our family for seven months and took a sabbatical on the other side of the world – New Zealand – where my husband worked, and I took a break from work to be a part of our lives over there. This is where I challenged myself to BE for a little while, instead of DO.

My husband jokingly called me Sue ZEN as I tried to slow down.

It was always a bit of a chuckle because it seemed that even in my slowing down, there was still plenty to speed up about.

I was in a new country where I was anxious to make new friends, see new things, explore new foods, and try new sports.

I found myself smack dab in the middle of my current read: Whereever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

How can you slow down when you take the busyness with you?

The busyness wasn’t my life, exactly, it was me. Yup, I was the one making everything busy. And if that’s the case, how do I slow my brain down so I can feel like I’m more of a human BEing instead of a human DOing?

Fast forward four years and we are back in Calgary, living our regular lives where we recently took a trip to Thailand to visit family. I thought this would be great – I would find some ZEN over there, some BEing in the midst of the elephants, Buddhism and lots of lots of soothing, natural, surroundings.

It was beautiful.

And I was busy.

Busy exploring the new country. Busy having fun. Busy packing lots of adventure into a short period of time to maximize the whole experience.

And it was awesome and fun and I could SEE how I could sit and be like Buddha if I chose to – later – when I had “time.”

Flying back to Calgary, that long, long journey resulted in an eight-hour layover in San Francisco airport. What to do for eight hours in an airport?

I walked the halls, killing time, when I stumbled across a “Yoga Room.”

Ahh, finally, I have absolutely nothing else to do, I could use this Yoga Room! So, in I go with my daughter and we sit, we stretch, and we enjoy the peaceful surroundings of this lovely quiet space in the middle of a busy airport.

And then I realized how ironic this was.

We are in the middle of a busy space where everyone is busy all around us, and we can be quiet – if we choose – right here in the middle of it all.

This is worth repeating as it’s the whole point of the article and of my quest:


There is a chapter in the Wherever You Go, There You Are book that’s quite a ways in before it lands this great truth on us:

Have you ever noticed that there is no running away from anything?” it says. “That, sooner or later, the things that you don’t want to deal with and try to escape from, or paper over and pretend aren’t there, catch up with you – especially if they have to do with old patterns and fears. 

The underlying thinking is that the reason for your troubles is outside of you – in the location, in others, in the circumstances. The trouble with this way of seeing is that it conveniently ignores the fact that you carry your head and your heart around with you. You cannot escape yourself, try as you might….The challenge of mindfulness is to work with the very circumstances that you find yourself in. It is right here that the real work needs to happen.”

'It is right here that the real work needs to happen.' - Jon Kabat-ZinnClick To Tweet

Of course, this realization is just the beginning of another beginning in so many ways. How do you slow your mind down if it’s your mind that’s the real source of the busyness?

That, my friend, is a question for another day and one that each one of us needs to figure out for ourselves in many ways.

For now, I will cherish my moment of quiet in the middle of San Francisco airport, and remind myself – when in moments of chaos in my still busy life – that I can choose to quiet my mind, whenever I want to.

Susan Elford

P.S. If you’d like to receive regular doses of Balancing Your Total Life in your inbox twice a month, sign up here or below so you don’t miss a single issue! You will be joining a community of like-minded, career-loving, life-balancing, go-getters who want to make the most of every single day. And, if this is speaking to you in a way that is sparking you to make some real change in your life, send me an email and we’ll set up time for a complimentary Balance Breakthrough Session that will help you get well on the way to figuring out how you can make those needed changes in your life.

PR Launchpad Guidebook ABOUT SUSAN ELFORD

Susan Elford is a Leadership Coach and PR Strategist who especially loves to work with women who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a full and satisfying life. Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.

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New from @susanelford: 'Choosing to Slow Down and Be a Human BEing Instead of a Human DOing'Click To Tweet

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