Can we talk a little bit about the busy-ness trap? You know. That whole thing where, as a society, we compete against each other to see who is the busiest and who deserves our collective pity for being the most overworked and overscheduled?
I used to really take pride in my busy-ness. I proudly would declare that I worked five jobs while in college. I’d subtly gloat about the fact that I stayed up until 2am the other night working on a project. I’d giggle at people who thought they were “busy”. I mean, didn’t they know? I was in the running for the Queen Bee of Busy-ness, and they were way far behind. I mean, they had time to sit down and eat at an actual table and have a conversation with their family. Slackers.
I thought I had to prove my worth by the amount of hours I worked or the number of projects I had going on or the things I checked of my list. More specifically, I thought I had to prove I was worthy of my wonderful, happy, and privileged life by busy-ifying myself so much that I became depressed and overwhelmed. If I wasn’t suffering, then I didn’t deserve it.
Holy self-sabotage, Batman! Talk about a Catch 22. I felt like to fully appreciate my charmed life, I had to work so hard for it that I didn’t have the emotional capacity to enjoy it. Not logical, Cass. You’re smarter than that!
So about six months ago, I went cold turkey. I stopped glorifying being busy. I stopped feeling inadequate or unproductive if I took an afternoon off. I stopped counting the number of hours I worked in a week to make sure I was working “enough” (what is “enough” anyway?!). I just stopped. I’m not sure what clicked, but man, am I glad it did.
Now, let me tell you how un-busy I am. I don’t work on the weekends. I don’t even open my laptop. Every Wednesday morning? I take a few hours and go get coffee with my wonderful husband. Just the two of us. I try to make sure I don’t have more than two appointments per week. I regularly tell friends and family that I can’t visit or attend events for no reason other than, “I don’t want to.”
My house isn’t spic and span. I read a book to Juniper almost every time she asks me to (although, admittedly, it is kinda hard to stop in the middle of cooking dinner to read). I do yoga every single day. We eat dinner at our kitchen table every single night. Our parties are very un-Pinterest-worthy. I skipped the country for three weeks this past summer just to have fun with my family.
Sometimes I go weeks without posting anything new to my blog. I don’t have that “replies within minutes” thing on my Facebook page. Projects take me months to accomplish instead of days. I don’t sign on to things anymore just because I feel like I “should” (I’m looking at you book deals). I’m not able to keep up with the latest trends.
I am not busy. Not even a little bit. Is my life full? Yes. Do I work hard? Yes. But am I busy? Nope. And my gosh, I am so happy about that.
Now, I know there are people who are legitimately strapped for hours in their day (hellooooo, parents who work out of the home!), but I think a lot of us make busywork for ourselves. We make life more complicated than it has to be, and oftentimes, we make it more complicated than is even enjoyable.
And, besides that, we all have a different busy-ness thresholds. I don’t do so hot with a full plate. Ask that husband of mine, Cass is a grumpy girl when she’s overscheduled. Maybe you don’t have that problem! Maybe you thrive with a packed calendar. But the fact of the matter is, busy-ness is all relative. What feels “busy” to me might be a cakewalk to you. What feels like a lazy Sunday to me, might feel like Chaos City to someone else. Comparing it all is TOTALLY WORTHLESS.
If you feel overwhelmed, try to figure out a way (no matter how small) you can help alleviate it. If you don’t feel overwelmed, well then, keep on keepin’ on! That’s it. Ignore the person sitting next to you and what they are doing. Check in with you, and make changes if they need to be made.
So what in the heck does this all have to do with this One Pot Lemon Orzo with Shrimp? I swear, I’m getting there.
One of the ways that I made the transition from busy to unbusy was to make some clear shifts in the areas of my daily life that were consistent time sucks—like email (oh gosh, my inbox management is another story for another time), laundry, and, the point of this post, weeknight dinners.
I gave myself permission to STOP making more work for myself on days that were already packed (read: weekdays). I thought I had to have an Instagram-worthy dinner every night of the week or the world would implode. Guess what? I had cereal for dinner the other night and the world is still spinning.
Out the window went rushing to finish a complicated recipe at 7pm on a Tuesday night, in the window went a repertoire of super easy dinners that we repeat, love, and finish with enough time leftover before bedtime to actually spend some family time together. And this One Pot Lemon Orzo with Shrimp is one of them.
This dinner feels fancy and complicated, but it all comes together in one pot in about a half hour. And this isn’t one of those one pot meals that actually needs a pot, a skillet, three soup spoons, a colander, a whisk, a pairing knife, and a whole set of mixing bowls. This is literally one. pot. At the end of the night, your sink should have these items in it: cutting board, knife, zester, pot, lid, spoon, and your plates. And maybe a wine glass depending on how your day went. Done.
Speaking of pots (I swear, I’ll get to the recipe eventually), let me tell you about my favorite pot for one-pot meals like this: it’s this Lodge Dutch oven. I know a lot of fuss is made about those fancy French ovens, and I wouldn’t turn one down if it came and knocked on my door, but for my money, you cannot beat the Lodge one. It’s like 1/5th of the price and amazing quality. It goes from the stove to the oven and back again without an issue. It’s heavy, sturdy, and could totally be used as a weapon if someone broke into your house. And my gosh, she’s a beaut, Clark. Highly recommended.
If you are a veggie, you can easily leave out the shrimp, and this is still a really awesome one-pot meal. I would maybe toss in a can of drained and rinsed white beans right before serving to up the fiber and protein—that’ll make it feel more filling.
And I always try to use whole wheat orzo when I can. Delallo has a really great whole wheat orzo, but I can’t find it in store anywhere around me. So if I’m shopping in a brick-and-mortar grocery store, I usually have to go with white orzo. But if you live somewhere fancy that sells whole wheat orzo? DO IT.
Alright, I’m going to shut up now. Enjoy the recipe, and revel in your unbusy-ness after you make it, k?