I was going to write about Brussels sprouts today.

I had it all planned out – spotlight three tried and true recipes featuring one of my favorite vegetables.

And then I went away for the weekend on a women’s retreat.

I’ve been inspired to write about something else. I’ll write about Brussels sprouts another day.

As important as eating what is nourishing and avoiding what is toxic is so important to our overall health, avoiding disease, and feeling our best, there is something we often overlook in this seemingly unending quest to “be healthy,” and that’s the power of rest.

Every year in February, my mom invites me to go on a retreat with her church to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with about 400 other women.

I’ve been about six times so far…and every time, I’m so glad I’ve heeded that gentle nudge to register.

I almost didn’t go this year.

Why? Well, you know, I’m just so busy, and besides, I could find plenty of other ways to spend the money.

With some encouragement from my husband, who knows I don’t do this whole relaxation and resting thing very well, I decided to go.

The main speaker was Tracey Meeks, who lost her husband of less than a decade to an inoperable brain tumor several years ago and is now raising her two children as a single mom. The stories and perspectives she shared were gripping, inspirational, and inviting.

One of the things she said that really resonated with me was this: “When we’re in constant activity, it’s like we are living while only exhaling.”

Let that soak in for a moment.

How many of us feel that way? We are going, going, going, constantly exerting energy, rarely taking a second to stop, to breathe in.

Most of us suffer from “hurry sickness.”  And this perpetual state of busyness robs us of our sense of wonder and can be kind of numbing.

We proudly wear our “busyness badge of honor,” and in doing so we forego connection, avoid vulnerability, and miss out on truly living.

I’m as guilty as the next person of proudly donning my busyness badge each day at work, at home, at church, and with my friends and family, constantly telling everyone how busy I am.

It is the result of my choices that I feel so busy…and I realize it is doing me more harm than good.

When “I’m busy,” I miss out on admiring the beauty of a stunning sunset.

When “I’m busy,” I ignore the subtle urgings to reach out to a friend and see how he or she is doing.

When “I’m busy,” I pass by a coworker having a less than great day with a “hey, how are you?” and don’t stop to hear his or her response.

When “I’m busy,” I prioritize my to do list over spending time with my husband.

When “I’m busy,” I don’t make time to rest, to relax, to retreat.

Being away this weekend made me realize something…I’m tired of being busy.

Does each of us have a lot going on in our lives? Sure. I don’t mean to diminish the complexity of life and the many hats that we wear and roles that we play on a daily basis.

But I also don’t want to use busyness as an excuse to avoid connection, intimacy, vulnerability, and life.

Taking time to rest, reflect and reconnect is one of the most important things we can do for our health.

More than anything else in my health journey, I struggle to set aside time to rest and renew myself, but I know I’m not alone, and that encourages me.

As much as it scares me, I’m going to commit to making a change because I know it’s good for my health, my relationships and my soul. I pledge not to use “busyness” as an excuse to distance myself from others but to see it as a gift, an opportunity to invite them in to support me, to connect face-to-face, and to be reminded of what really matters.

I’m turning in my “busyness badge.”

In Part 2, I will share lessons learned on the retreat about some non-food nourishment for our too-busy souls.