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Letting Go of Busy

We live in a culture obsessed with being busy. I spent much of my 20’s battling one sickness after the next because I refused to slow down. I was busy to the max all the time because I felt like I had to keep up with our speed crazed culture. On a deeper level I felt that if I wasn’t busy then I wasn’t of value. Oh how misguided I was! When I came across In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré, I immediately thought, now this is a talk everyone I know needs to hear!

Looking back I see that I was operating from a deficit of self-love. Because I didn’t fully believe there was value in what I was doing I did a ton of it. All the time. I lived in a near constant state of needing approval from outside sources and to say it was exhausting would be an understatement.

I was depleted.

Thankfully I trusted my intuition enough to seek out yoga and meditation which I know saved my life. As I cultivated those practices I was led to new friends, teachers, and ways of taking care of myself that I didn’t think I would ever be able to turn into habits. And here’s the deal… it has taken me years to change and be where I am today. I didn’t learn to eat well in a week and I didn’t learn to love myself in 3 Easy Steps. It has taken courage, dedication, and more willingness than I could muster on my own. Much of my strength in the beginning came from supportive groups, yoga classes, and friends walking a similar path.

Living in a culture obsessed with being busy took such a huge toll on my life. Am I embarrassed by that? Today, no. Collective energy is powerful and seductive. It takes a high level of awareness to recognize when I get hooked into beliefs that no longer serve me, like the one about not being of value and therefore having to be super busy all the time. Or the one about my life not being meaningful because I am too wrapped up comparing myself to everyone else.

Today I have choices. I can jump on the busy train and rush around trying to get everything done as fast as possible, or I can slow down and as Carl says, connect with my inner tortoise. I’m so down with connecting with my inner tortoise right now. It isn’t always comfortable or easy for me as I tend to be a high vibe kind of person but I fully believe that for long term health, joy, and sanity this is the path.

To shake things up I decided to slow my roll on email this week. My work mantra: I don’t have to email everyone back right away. Yes, I know I run my own business and some people expect a speedy response, but it’s a personal choice. At the end of the day taking care of myself is number one and if that means not responding emails after 6 p.m. that is what it means. It’s my job to be fully present and available for my life and I cannot do that if I am ungrounded in my self-care.

Carl Honoré’s talks about how we are so caught up in how fast our lives move that we fail to recognize the toll it takes on our health. I know loads of young women with auto immune disorders, many of which stem from chronic exhaustion and stress. This makes me sad on one level but it’s also a great wake up call. If we can let go of being overly busy and expending all of our personal energy we can and will be healthier.

The longer I live the more I understand how precious life is. I want to make each moment count and to be honest I’m over being busy. I am so ready to let it go and make room for more creativity, steadiness, and ease. Of course I know that I have to hustle at times and there are project deadlines to work with, but I can still bring a slowness and peace into everything that I do. That is the practice. Are you willing to let go of being busy and slow down to enjoy the ride?

From my inner tortoise to yours,



  • Laura Phillips

    I really love what you wrote and also just read an old post of yours about staying calm around social media. Thank you for saying what I needed to hear! I too, have always been drawn to a busy lifestyle and have been actively taking steps to allow more space for slowing down each day. It’s will admit that it is hard sometimes! I think I used to love how the rush felt, running from thing to thing, but it no longer serves me. It no longer feels good. The pull of the big, busy city is strong, but it’s refreshing to be reminded by like minded people such as yourself, that it’s ok to say no and relax a little bit. I will always keep the “inner tortoise” in mind as a source of inspiration! Thank you!

    • ashley

      Hey Laura!
      Thanks so much for sharing that. I love that you are taking steps to slow down too. It is totally challenging, especially here in LA. I’m grateful to know that we are in this together and are committed to relaxing and taking more time for ourselves. It’s such incredible self-care.
      Wishing you a peaceful weekend, I hear it’s even supposed to rain – YES!

  • Oh how true this is. I sometime struggle with not feeling guilty for taking some downtime, which somehow I seem to be needing more of than other people. It’s a work in progress, but I also just want to take it slower and enjoy all the little moments.

    • ashley

      I hear you Maja, I seem to need much more down time than others too. Enjoying the little moments is what I am all about too these days. Here’s to slowing down and taking care of ourselves!
      Wishing you a beautiful weekend. xoa

  • Thanks you fro this post, your words resonate deeply.
    Your monthly newsletter is a nourishment it itself.

    Greetings from Berlin!

    • ashley

      Wonderful to hear form you Tatjana! Thank you for the kind words. I am so grateful for them, perfect timing ;)
      Wishing you a beautiful weekend. Lots of love, xoa

  • Conrad

    Hi Ashley,

    I’ve actually been a regular reader of your blog for quite sometime now (at least 2 years) with you just always appearing in my RSS feeds. I guess I’m one of those readers that you don’t know about but feel glad I’m finally reaching out to say hello.

    I have gone through a lot of upheavals over the past two years and I’ll admit, making myself busy was how I believed I could get through it and just “move on.” The realities are that you have really have to sit and face those emotions, feel them, live your life with them, for you to really start growing again and moving on.

    It seems as though being busy and continuously occupying the mind (and showing the world that we are busy, especially on-line) is a common mindset of today’s culture. And I wonder if it’s really become today’s way to avoid the stress and pressure of everyday life, and to make sure we’re not “missing out” on anything.

    Only recently have I stopped trying to fill up every weekend and evening with some sort of activity, and just slow slow down to a point of sometimes just sitting and experiencing anxiety, anger, happiness, fear and stress. 3 months ago, my quest was for being busy, getting goals planned, making sure I complete my task list. Now it’s just to be at peace with myself.

    • ashley

      Hi Conrad,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to reach out and share. It’s wonderful to connect and what you wrote really resonates with me. I also believe that we have to be willing to sit through and face everything in order to heal and grow. I have made myself busy in the past to avoid being uncomfortable. I also agree that much of the busy is about that fear of missing out. Today I am with you, being at peace with myself is the practice I am cultivating.

      I love that you mentioned not filling up your entire weekend with activities – that is huge! Thank you again for joining the conversation, your voice is well received and I am grateful to connect.

      Wishing you a peaceful week. xoa

  • […] 1) Letting Go of Busy by Ashley Neese […]

  • Janey

    I just came here from a link on

    I love this article! I think I will always be trying to have a balance of activity and rest, but I’m a lot better at it than I was 5 years ago. I think what has helped me is taking a big step back from social media and instead spending time on thoughtful media (articles like this!). Also focussing on self care exercise like more sleep, time outside, walking, mindfulness and nourishing foods. I feel quite removed from old friends’ lifestyles but I am very ok with that. As I age I care less about being exactly the same as my friends and more about just craftin my own true self.

    Tortoises own. Xoxo

    • ashley

      Hi Janey,

      I love Lacey’s blog! She’s such an inspiration. Thanks for coming over and taking the time to share! I really appreciate everything you wrote, especially the parts about stepping back from social media and focusing more on self care. Social media can be such an energy drainer for me, I have to be super mindful of the time I spend on it. Crafting your true self – YES! This is really hitting home with me tonight. I needed to read that.
      Wishing you a beautiful, restorative evening. xoa

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