Coming Clean: An Attempt to Rescue My Time & Life

I have a secret.

I’m addicted to being busy. And I hate it.

I’ve had many people tell me that me + busyness is like peanut butter and jam–that we go together, hand-in-hand. They say that I look so happy when I’m busy or that being busy is my thing.

They are correct in their superficial observation, but I know, on a deeper level, that this observation is also an incorrect assumption. (It’s not their fault though, I’ve believed and perpetuated this falsity for so long…)

Acknowledging Busyness = Like Barfing

If you know me personally, it’s probably hard to believe that I’ve cringed every single time (seriously, every time) that someone complimented me on how “happy” and “energized” I look when I’m busy.

No joke–my stomach does a nervous somersault EVERY. DAMN. TIME. My gut feels so knotted that I sometimes imagine myself physically detangling it and needing superhero-level strength to do so. I also imagine vomiting. That’s how visceral of a reaction I get when someone says that I look good and happy when busy. (Quite simply, YUCK.)

Now, if I step back and analyze that reaction, I see that it’s pretty damn unhealthy to imagine barfing and needing to be a superhero to undo such a simple and seemingly innocent observation.

Yet, I’ve rarely stopped to fully analyze this uncomfortable feeling until just yesterday evening when I was up until 4:00 AM writing this post.

Typically, instead of stopping to reflect on this particularly knotty and confusing feeling, I’ve just kept moving on and on, just like I think I should (the keyword here is should, which is no good).

Because somehow I’ve come to believe that progress doesn’t happen by doing nothing. And goals don’t get accomplished if you don’t have focus, if you don’t work hard, if you don’t do XYZ and 10 million other things x 10 million more. Blah, blah, blah.

Sure, there’s some truth to these positive reminders that help you accomplish things and be successful (in whatever way you define your own success), but I’ve also found them to be a seriously tangled and messy web that’s easy to get stuck in and hard to get out of.

If I’m being 100% honest with myself (and others), I have to come clean–I DON’T LIKE BEING BUSY. I HATE IT. I HATE IT SO MUCH.

Why My Life Is a Busy Ball of Hell

But I am busy. So fucking busy. ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME.


Because I’ve internalized so much BS–from society, from culture, from “success” stories I’ve heard, from what I’ve learned growing up, from what I’ve told myself, etc. etc.–that being busy is akin to a virtue.

That busyness is the way to success (and what kind of success? I have no f’ing idea).

That you cannot reach professional and personal fulfillment without being constantly busy doing something to get to the next level.

That you cannot be a “worthy” person if you aren’t doing super amazing things all the time (and, preferably, super amazing things that help others).

That you cannot reach the next whatever without pushing the needle just a little bit more, doing just a few more hours of this or that, etc. etc. etc.

A Slight Detour: Defining Busyness

Before I continue, I should define what I mean by busyness…

When I say busy, I mean packing almost every hour of your day with some sort of active activity. Active activity = writing a blog post, doing actual paid work, cooking, baking, cleaning, tackling various projects/assignments…essentially knocking of anything on your never-ending to-do list.

An active activity is different from a passive activity.

A passive activity would be anything that gives you deep relaxation and that you derive great pleasure from. For me, this would be reading a book or magazine, taking a bath, going for a walk, writing and creating for fun, and being still and just observing the wonders of the world around me.


  • Active = things that keep you busy going toward some kind of defined, albeit arbitrary goal
  • Passive = relaxation (i.e. no “real” goal that society at-large could easily define–and likely a “goal” that you (or others) might consciously or unconsciously shame yourself for doing because you should be doing that other active “goal”).

Back to: Why My Life Is a Busy Ball of Hell

And so, when I look at my own life, all I see is busy. Busy at 6 AM. Busy at 9 AM. Busy at 9:05 AM. Busy at 9:10 AM. Busy until I go to sleep too late at 1 AM and then wake up just five to six hours later. (Yep, super unhealthy.)

I’ve come face-to-face with the ugliness that is busyness before. For instance, when I’ve exhausted myself so much so that I’m snippy and unhappy around family and friends and I mistakenly blame it on something else (a job, a particular situation, someone else, my existential crisis of not knowing what to do with my life–more on this particular form of BS at a later time, etc.).

But really, my bad/lackluster mood and poor behavior is (often times) the result of being so damn tired because I am so damn busy doing ten million things all the time and holding myself up to super unrealistic expectations. My energy is completely sapped. I no longer feel alive in the way I often appear to be for the initial launch of my many projects and activities. What I’ve experienced time and time again is that this energy doesn’t last. And it’s not because I don’t want that energy to last; rather, it’s because I’m literally suffocating my time to death because I keep stuffing my days full with just one more thing.

And I’m sick and tired of it, this busyness. It ruins my life–rather, my enjoyment of life–way too often.

This busyness stems from a number of assumptions that I’ve held so firmly from years of social and (American) cultural input (I really have to learn to embrace my Croatian cultural input instead…so much more relaxed and balanced!).

Some of these assumptions (and my accompanying commentary–enjoy!) include the following:

  • You should try your best on everything you do. This means doing it close to perfection and often, doing it better than others. (HA! Question for you–why do we always have to compete with others and compare ourselves to them, American/social culture? Because it’s BULLSHIT.)
  • You should try to one up yourself to keep challenging yourself so that you grow. (But grow into what? A fucking flower? The strong, awe-worthy beanstalk from Jack and the Giant Beanstalk? Who the fuck knows…)
  • You should always be working because “an idle mind is the Devil’s playground” and you can’t reach your potential or save the world or take care of your family or make the money you want (etc.) if you’re not working all the time. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. (1) How do you–whoever you are (or even the Devil)–know what my full potential looks like? And (2) BULLSHIT.)

How I Broke-Down and Confronted the Busyness Bully

Just this weekend I came face-to-face with busyness again in all its ugliness.

I turned in an assignment (i.e. take-home exam) for a grad school class that was only 50% complete, which means that I’ll probably get a 50% (maybe less) as my grade for it (will I fail the whole class, though? Probably not, and so I’m letting it go…).

But why did I only do a horrifyingly 50% of my assignment? Because (1) I underestimated the time I would need to spend on it (and I underestimated my overall comprehension of the material) ,  and (2) my life has been split into so many different busy pieces that by the time I sat down to do the work, I was already exhausted and had difficulty doing simple math.

No bueno, as David would say.

So after I had a mini breakdown (I threw multiple books onto the floor and stormed away from my computer, so disgusted and frustrated with myself), I decided to work through my anger and everything else I was feeling instead of letting it consume me in shame and self-pity.

Thanks to this huge fail of a moment, what I realized was that I can’t go on living this way, in this constant state of busyness. (To be honest, this failure kinda saved my life, and I’m grateful for it. Insert heart emoji.)

  • (1) I can’t actually get through all 20 items on my to-do list in just one weekend. It’s impossible (although I was close, somehow, until I quite literally failed my assignment, which derailed all my hopes and dreams of having a perfectly complete to-do list–HA!).
  • And (2), I don’t even need to be doing most of what I have on my list anyways.

For instance, this blog. I want to have this blog because I want to write. But I don’t need to do it nor do I really need to stick to some kind of posting schedule that I’ve been trying to force upon myself simply because I know what you need to do to grow a blog following.

Yes, it’s great to know these best practices for work and commerce, but I’m not doing this blog for work or to make money or even to grow my audience. It’s just for fun. And it’s just for me (readers are an extra bonus–and I 100% appreciate you!).

My Come-Back-to-Reality-and-Stop-the-Busy-Train Lessons Learned

What I’ve also realized is that I really, truly HATE being busy–as I’ve always known, but have been afraid to acknowledge.


Because it means confronting the uncomfortable truth that I must learn to love and accept myself on my own, and that I’m worthy of love and belonging (to borrow Brene Brown’s words), even without having all the bells and whistles of projects, activities, and the like to cover-up (instead of deal with) my own self-criticism, self-consciousness, and lack of self-compassion.

Moreover, for many years, I’ve used busyness as a way to show how “successful” I am to the outside world, because, really, the outside world validates this path to success (and success in terms of $$$, power, and status, etc.) ALL the time–from corporate America to your parents and friends (and we–me, included–really need to stop this…).

For example, next time you see someone, like me, doing 10 million different projects, don’t say, “You are so amazing. I don’t know how you have time for all of this. I wish I could do that.”

  • Because (1) you really don’t want to do what I’m doing because it’s insane and unhealthy.
  • (2) I don’t actually have time for all of it; I’m drowning.
  • (3) I need to learn to embrace that I am amazing no matter what, regardless of if my to-do list is full or not. I also need to learn not rely on other people’s compliments for validation of my own worth.

Again, it is no one’s fault for saying something like the above example, but it is probably better to congratulate people on accomplishing something they were working on (and really wanted to be working on) rather than congratulating them for doing lots of projects and, by extension, being busy trying to “do it all.”

The Infinite Wisdom of Luca Spaghetti

I’ve also used busyness as a way to show how “successful” I am to myself. I’ve held up my worth against this ridiculous and totally arbitrary measure of success, i.e. if I complete EVERYTHING on my crazy long self-created to-do list by this weekend, THEN I will deserve praise and relaxation.

In writing this, I can’t help but think of Luca Spaghetti from the Eat, Pray, Love movie summing up this silly (American) notion so nicely:

Luca Spaghetti: You feel guilty because you’re American. You don’t know how to enjoy yourself!.

Liz Gilbert: [looking a bit taken aback] I beg your pardon?

Luca Spaghetti: It’s true. Americans know entertainment, but don’t know pleasure.

. . .

Luca Spaghetti: . . . You want to know your problem? Americans! You work too hard. You get burned out. Then you come home and spend the whole weekend in your pajamas in front of the TV.

Liz Gilbert: That’s not far off, actually.

Luca Spaghetti: But you don’t know pleasure. You have to be told you’ve earned it. You see a commercial that says, “It’s Miller time”… and you say, “That’s right. Now I will go to buy a six-pack.” And drink the whole thing and wake up the next morning and you feel terrible. But an Italian doesn’t need to be told. He walks by a sign that says, “You deserve a break today,” and he says, “Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m planning on taking a break at noon…”

My Real Values vs. My Adopted Values

So, even though my real life values have nothing to do with optimizing my newsletter for my ideal readership or spending hours on a paper so that I get an A+ or working 60+ hours in a week to make extra bucks, I still somehow spend the majority (actually, all) of my time on this stuff. I mean, that’s crazy, isn’t it?!?!

What I truly value is quality time with family and friends and being creative and writing and above all, FREE TIME TO ENGAGE IN ALL OF THESE QUALITY, FLEETING, AND WONDERFUL THINGS.

Yet, I’ve continually deprived myself of free time so that I can keep climbing that ladder…that imaginary ladder to someone else’s version of success and fulfillment.

Don’t get me wrong–there are things I must certainly do, like clean, cook, do homework, make money, etc. BUT that doesn’t mean I should spend ALL of the time on these things. And it most certainly doesn’t mean that I should sacrifice my own health and sanity for these things either.

While I know this letting-go-of-busyness process will be very difficult, since it’s always hard to unlearn a long-held habit, I’ve decided to consciously try saying “no” to any external invitations or internal naggings that don’t align with what I really want to be doing with my time and life.

The Burning: A Liberation

And so, to celebrate this healthy step in the right direction, I decided to burn my 2018 goal list, which contained many things I enjoy (like cooking, reading, writing, etc.) but in a format that was way to social pressure-esque and prone to too much shaming if I didn’t get something done.

As I watched my 2018 goal list burn, I felt so much stress melt away and so much peace come rushing back into my life–the same peace I felt before I put pen to paper to create the list in the first place.

Here’s my liberation, proof in ashes:

unnamed (1)

In addition to this fiery celebration, I wrote a little 2018 Don’t Do List to empower myself to make healthy life, time, and priority choices. Because: “Hi, I’m Kristina. And I’m a busyaholic.”

To embracing la dolce vita like Luca Spaghetti,


P.S. Here’s a sample from my 2018 Don’t Do List:

  • Stop trying to revamp your blog newsletter. Actually, better yet–stop making your blog newsletter completely because it’s just another thing on your to-do list you don’t need to actually do.
  • Make whatever recipes you want each week. If you try something new, cool. If you don’t, fine. You’ll be fed. Your world will be just fine if you don’t reach your previously set goal of trying a new recipe every two weeks. Do what you can, and don’t beat yourself up.
  • Don’t say yes to everyone and every invitation to do work, go out, volunteer, have brunch/coffee, etc. And don’t feel guilty for wanting to stay at home and read a book and drink hot chocolate by yourself.
  • Speaking of reading, read whatever books you want, whenever you want. GoodReads is great–but don’t feel like you MUST reach the Reading Challenge goal you set because really, what you want most is to enjoy reading, not to win a fucking competition. (But keep on reading your one poem a day because that gives you so much joy it’s astounding.)
  • Don’t try to make this blog anything more than what you enjoy (because if you enjoy it, likely others will enjoy its authenticity as well). You created this blog to kickstart writing for yourself again (not for work, not for fame, and not even for your lovely audience of friends). You did this for you. So keep doing it for you. Your friends will like and respect you no matter what.

P.S.S. Another dose of inspiration I stumbled upon today from one of my fav. travel bloggers:


Feature photo credit: Goal List Ashes / KP



Remembering a Forever Friend

This post is about Fuzzy, my family’s cat of 15 years. We made the hard decision to put him down this week. It was tougher than I ever imagined.

While I have had the honor of sharing my life with other companion animals, I never received the opportunity to bond so closely with one as I did with Fuzzy (aka Mr. Fuzz or King Fuzzy). He was my family’s first full-time feline, a beautiful gray cat.

Looking for Petting / KP

Fuzzy was born outdoors, a feral, to a feral mum sometime in the spring. I imagine fresh green grass, a cloudless sky filled with sunlight, and birds chirping, chatting with each other among tree branches on his day of birth. I have absolutely no clue what the day was actually like, but I like to think it was a beautiful kind of day for a cat like Fuzzy to be born.

I met Fuzzy when he was just a few months shy of one. He lived among other ferals under the porch of my best friend’s home. Out of the various feral felines hanging around their property, Fuzzy and his two brothers (Wuzzy and Bear — yes, I know, ADORABLE) were slowly being acclimated to an indoor life thanks to the efforts of my friend and her parents. We were in the 6th grade, a time when we were figuring out what in the hell was middle school, and a time when I was determined that my plea for a pet would finally be heard.

After much nagging of the parents, and a visit to my friend’s so that my mom could meet Fuzzy for herself, there was no turning back. Fuzzy was ours and we were Fuzzy’s.

The stars aligned, as the saying goes.

Bringing Fuzzy home was a highlight of my pre-teen life. His first official spot in our house was my bedroom, where he remained until he was litter-trained and got used to his new surroundings. I remember excitedly telling everyone about my new companion. I even remember that my crush at the time came to visit with a friend just to meet Mr. Fuzz. My heart was full. Life was complete already in the 6th grade.

Computer Hog / KP

My family saw Fuzzy through his early years of endless play and through a horrible bout of ringworm that lasted for far too long. We saw him learn to love brushing and loathe nail cutting (always finicky about his left back leg…). We saw as my dad took more interest in him and come to love him as me and my mother did; Dad became Fuzzy’s resident toothbrusher.

We saw Fuzzy often whiz around our house during his crazy energy sprees. We saw Fuzzy chitter-chatter with the birds outdoors, wagging his tail hard against the kitchen chair he was sitting on. We saw Fuzzy refuse to return the toy mice we would throw for him, instead choosing to walk back to us, patiently waiting for us to get the mice ourselves or throw another one.

We saw Fuzzy talk with us as much as he did with his bird friends, meowing, meowing all the time, making his kingly voice heard until his demands were met. We saw Fuzzy gallop to the door every time we arrived home, meowing for petting, meowing to be let into the garage, meowing for food, meowing for even more petting, meowing to say, hello, I missed you.

And then we saw Fuzzy through his worst. A tumor popped up under his right leg a few months ago. He was still the same Fuzzy though, happy as ever, and still healthy otherwise. But the tumor grew fast, bigger and uglier everyday.

Eventually, the cancer took its toll on Fuzzy. He grew slow, wobbly, lethargic. These changes happened so fast, in a matter of a couple weeks. He went from running to the door to greet us to staying curled up in the basement or against the heater, waiting for us to come to him.

Sun Cat / KP

He slept ever more. His sleeping style became less relaxed–instead of sprawling out, lengthening his body to claim the bed, he curled up tight, like you see a slug do when it senses danger. He no longer slept on the beds or couches, opting for a spot against a heater or in the basement–a room with all of his kitty stuff, but not a place he often chose to sleep except on hot days.

The vet prescribed him morphine, to help ease his pain. It likely did, but it was hard to tell. He only slept more.

The last four days I spent with him were the toughest. Each day, I watched cancer take away my friend.

The first day, he came to see us, and asked for some petting. He still ambled up the stairs to the kitchen for his bit of wet food, meowing just a couple times, and then eating his fill, which wasn’t much anymore. Afterwards, he retreated to the basement.

The second day, he came up to the kitchen once, and then went straight back down to his chair in the basement to fall asleep. He did find his way upstairs at one point, to shimmy up against the heater to sleep some more.

By the third day, he no longer got up. He did not use his litter box and he did not come for food or petting. I went down to visit him, petting him gently as I knew even this simple, common gesture of affection might cause him some pain. I tapped his nose lightly, a sign he learned from his kitten days as, “I love you.” While he didn’t get up to greet me, he did purr softly, flicking his tail.

King Fuzzy / KP

The fourth day arrived. He showed no changes for the better. When I went downstairs to visit him, to pet him, he barely purred. His tail never flicked. It was time.

I have never before witnessed an animal being put to sleep. It was an emotionally painful experience, but it wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. I think because Fuzzy and I seemed to have a mutual understanding that his time had come. But it still wasn’t easy. It was heartbreaking.

I opted to stay in the room with him at the vet office. They placed him on my lap and I held him, pet him, and kissed his soft, gray fur, as tears ran down my face. It was the end. I didn’t want to let go. And neither did he. He knew, and he still had the fight in him, but not enough. He went peacefully to sleep, surrounded by love.

Just like that, 15 years of life came to an end.

While many folks who have animal companions lovingly refer to them as “fur babies,” Fuzzy was never my baby. Yes, he was “Baby Fuzzy,” sometimes, just like he was “Fuzz Muzz,” and “Fuzz Puz” (puz is slug in Croatian), and “Fuzzy Wuzzy.” He had all of these affectionate names, but he was never my baby. He was his sweet feral mum’s baby.

To me, Fuzzy was my friend, my constant companion. And in my book, friends are family.

Love / KP

And so I dedicate this post to Fuzzy, my forever friend. We may have given him a forever home, but what he gave my family was so much more.

Thank you for the wonderful memories, Fuzz. Thank you for the love. May you rest in peace.

With love always,


In memory of Fuzzy, I have decided to mark each anniversary of his death with a donation to an animal rescue/shelter. Today I donated to Paws for Life Animal Rescue, a wonderful volunteer-run organization in metro Detroit that serves both cats and dogs. If you are interested in donating, please visit this link. And if you are interested in adopting a friend, please click here. Thank you.

Feature photo credit: Mr. Fuzz / KP

Finding My Anchors Amid Uncertainty

The Rock (yes that Rock–Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is the inspiration behind today’s post. Or one of them at least.

(Remember, I’m going to occasionally talk about my obsessions on this blog…The Rock is just one of many…and did you know he has an f’ing alarm clock you can download?! Mind blowing goodness, that’s what it is.)

In a recent video post on his Instagram page, The Rock spoke and wrote about his anchors in life–his family and his physical training–and how they drive him to keep pushing himself.

In The Rock’s own words, “Find your anchor and protect it.”

(Now that man should have his own f’ing daytime talk show. Oprah, can you smell what The Rock is cookin’?)

Rock GIF.gif

And so, thanks in part to The Rock, I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of anchors. 

Having recently transitioned out of one life chapter, I’ve been grappling with how to stay steady and strong as I begin a fresh, new chapter.

A lot has changed over the past few years.

  • I’ve grown older and wiser and tougher.
  • I’ve changed jobs and volunteer gigs.
  • I’ve had some dark days and I’ve had some great ones.
  • I’ve travelled and stayed still.
  • I’ve tried new things I never in a million years thought I would (pole fitness, skiing, Krav Maga, shooting a gun to name a few) and stubbornly refused to let other things go (mac and cheese addict forever).
  • I’ve read and not read.
  • I’ve written and not written.

All through these normal life fluctuations my anchors have largely remained the same and kept me sane–my family, my friends and my own training.

Anchor #1: Family

My family has given me the unconditional love only a family can. Despite our disagreements, annoyances, and frustrations we may share sometimes, I know that I can always count on them to be there for me no matter what. 

I am grateful to have such a family as I know not all do. They are there with a life float if I ever need it and they are always open to listening if I choose to share my thoughts.

I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful. Thank you.

Anchor #2: Friends

My friends have given me joy, adventure and a place among them to shine as myself. With them, I am safe to be exactly who I am while also being pushed and challenged so that I can grow ever more wiser. They make me smile, but more importantly they make me laugh.

This last sentence reminds me of a line in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth Bennett writes to her aunt and uncle about her relationship with Mr. Darcy: “I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh.”

My friends aren’t quite like dreamy, steamy Mr. Darcy but the same sentiment applies as they give me pure joy.

Thank you. I am so grateful.

Anchor #3: Training

And then my training anchor comes in two parts: inner (self, soul, emotional, mental, whathaveyou) and outer (physical). I have found over the years that if I leave either part unattended my whole self suffers whether or not my family or friends are readily available.

My inner training has ranged from reading and writing to coloring and meditating and yoga. All of these practices bring me back to center even amid chaos.

My outer training has varied over time from steady distance running to high intensity fitness like Krav Maga and MMA. Whatever it is, I know I need it. Go a week without it and my mood and outlook already feels off. With it, I feel powerful and empowered.

Find Your Anchor(s)

If you’re like me and feel like you’ve lost your way during a life shift or anticipate some life changes happening down the road, I encourage you to think about who or what are your anchors and make sure you keep ‘em by your side.

You may not need them all the time (helicopter anchors are no good just like helicopter parents–eek!), but when you do need them they will be there waiting for you. Just remember to pay attention to them occasionally if they happen to be real people…real people don’t wait forever (real talk).

And if you feel like you don’t yet have anchors–don’t worry. Try some different tactics on for size that may make you feel calm, collected, safe and happy. No harm in trying and no harm in failing. Just keep going.

I wish you boundless seas of goodness in your anchor search. May you find what you need even amid uncertainty.

With love,


P.S. Want an inspired email inbox? Who wouldn’t?! Subscribe to the Inspiration Newsletter to get that shimmer of inspirational light into your box every month. (That sounded dirty, didn’t it? 😉 )

Feature photo credit: Opatija’s Sea Maiden / KP