I have to admit this one made me THINK REAL hard. Me, a recovering perfectionist, mom of 2 kids ages 9 and 5, blogger with 2 blogs and an active Group Writing Project, home owner, inventor actively working on my invention, friend, only child, wife, daughter…. hmm how DO I practice balance and what DOES Life Balance mean to me? Life Balance to me means KNOWING what is important to you in your life and making sure that when you do those things you are present and doing them consciously. If you do anything while your mind is somewhere else and keep coming back to “what isn’t being done” you will feel like you are juggling while on a unicycle instead of successfully balancing. Here are a few steps I use to maintain balance in my life as well as a favorite animation that won the Oscar for Best Animated Short in 1990 called “Balance” which I immediately think of when I hear the word “balance”.
Pick THINGS you Love to DO
I have so many things I enjoy doing and people I enjoy being with and am so very grateful this is the case. If I allow myself to, I can become quite overwhelmed with what HASN’T been tended to… instead it is important that WHEN I am doing something I get the full enjoyment out of it. I love to dance, write, be with my friends and family, read, take long walks, cross country ski, meditate, cook, work on my invention, network and meet people, play games and to learn. If I tried to do ALL of these things daily I might go out of my mind — (but I’d be happy while losing it)! I have a clear picture of the things I enjoy most and keeping a picture of those things ensures it won’t be long before I do each of them again. I even have a hierarchy of sorts… I KNOW if I don’t go for a long walk for a few days my body will be craving it and my mind just won’t work as well. Knowing this, KEEPS me aware that every few days I need to take a nice long walk and be grateful while I am doing it. If I am unfocused and “worrying about this or that” I will not come back having appreciated the walk – but rather more frazzled – and what would be the point in that? I balance the things I love to do by first KNOWING what it is I love to do most, being conscious and grateful when I do these things and by not stressing about WHAT hasn’t been done. If I take notice I haven’t done something like danced in a while I will set the intention in my mind that I would like to go dancing soon.
Decide WHO You want to spend time with
I am very blessed and have many friends, family and people I have networked with that I would LOVE to spend time with. Truth is I don’t get to physically see 80% of the people I would love to regularly due to location but I try my best to keep in touch. I
make sure when I am spending time with a loved one I am spending conscious time with them. My mom, my husband, my kids and my good friend Angela are people I never go a few days without spending significant time with. All of these people are inspirational to me and I love deeply. When you spend time with loved ones are you sitting in front of the TV with them or are you emotionally connecting? Are you consciously interacting and exchanging thoughts and feelings or are you going through the motions and waiting to speak? Interaction with positive people in your life is priceless. One never knows what the next day will bring. When you are with someone — be with them and feel the connection you share. Even if you spend every night with your spouse – if you are spending it in front of the TV and not communicating it can leave you feeling disconnected and unbalanced in your relationship. Conscious communication time is crucial for successful healthy relationships.
I use this philosophy whether I am answering an email or looking into someone’s eyes while speaking with them. Give the other person your full attention while interacting. Stop that ego from interfering and really appreciate every interaction in your life. This way you both get the maximum experience from interacting and you can learn along the way. I love Wayne Dyer’s philosophy that he looks at every person he interacts with as someone he is going to learn something from… when you start to look at people like that you can’t help being filled with love and anticipation that something great will come from that interaction. Whether it is a smile to a stranger or your undivided attention when talking to a loved one — complete consciousness during the interaction will help you feel balanced instead of feeling a lack of emotional connectivity.
Nourish Your Body, Mind and Soul
I feel part of the reason I had my dis-eases was my body’s way of saying “Hey! Wake up! “Time to put yourself first — oh… you won’t okay — if you’re sick you’ll HAVE to put yourself first!” As far back as I remember I was always described as “sweet” and “kind”. My friend’s came to me for support whenever things didn’t go well or they needed an ear. I am VERY happy to be that person as I truly love helping others but it got so bad I was somewhere down near 10th on my list of people to tend to. I feel life is about growing and learning and making a difference in other people’s lives. I feel in order to do that you NEED to make sure you are in top shape physically and emotionally.
A question asked of me put this in crystal clear light… If a boat was sinking and you and your husband and kids were all possibly going to drown — who would you rescue? My first thought? Everyone else but myself! The response? How are you going to rescue ANYONE else if you don’t make sure you are safe first? “A-Ha — I GOT it!”. If I am worn down and exhausted from tending to everyone else I will have nothing to offer ANYBODY.
I now KNOW it is important for me to nourish my mind with learning — luckily I can do this as part of my “job description”. I need alone time to meditate or walk and just “be”… yes, I will let my mind run rampant for a while but am sure to reign it in after a while and also just take some deep cleansing breaths. The alone time is good for my soul and good for me to connect with who I am deep inside rather than my roles of mom, wife, etc…. I need to nourish my body with exercise, water and good food and to be cognizant while doing this so my physical self appreciates it as well as my emotional self. By being kind to myself I am ensuring I am physically and emotionally as healthy as possible so I CAN help others when needed and have the energy to do it.
To have the energy to give out you need to be conscious about where your energy is going and make sure you set aside time to ensure your wellness, health and happiness. I know as a mom of two young children I was very apt to say “I have no time to care for myself” but this is just making it so. There IS time if you prioritize and make sure YOU have the energy needed to take care of yourself first –THEN you will have the energy to offer other people. A good night’s sleep, the correct food, 5 minutes alone of meditation time, doing things you love — all of these will contribute to you having energy for yourself as well as for others. Having energy I feel is key to being balanced and knowing you can tackle whatever needs to be done.
Do What You Love (Work)
When you work using your strengths not only are you nourishing your own soul but you are bringing a great gift to the world. I love learning about personal development, spirituality, the mind/body connection and healing. I love writing. I love networking and being social with people. I LOVE the internet. It is because of these passions that blogging and coaching are natural choices for me. Sometimes you have to “think outside the box” a bit to find out HOW you can make money doing what you love. There are many great posts I have found on this topic and here are a few to look at:
“A Tested Guide to Transcending Your Fears and Finally Living Your Life’s Purpose” by Albert at The Urban Monk.
Steve Pavlina’s “How to Discover your Life’s Purpose in About 20 Minutes“.
The above three posts (and websites in general) are a great way to start discovering your life’s purpose and beginning to think about HOW to grow that into what you do to make a living. I guarantee there is a WAY to do what you love and make money at it!
When I “work” I am doing what I love. There are times when I am writing where I feel like there is no thought involved…. call it what you want “being divinely guided”, “being in the zone”…. when you do what you love for a living you will have many of these moments and WOW is it an amazing feeling. The joy I get from writing and after posting something I am proud of fills me with energy and leaves me feeling balanced and ready to tackle something else.
The “To do’s”
Housework, laundry, car check-ups, groceries, chores, paying bills — ahh wouldn’t it be nice to have one day a week to JUST do this stuff? Amid all the “work” and “play” time there are the “I gottas” that come up. How do you balance all of this as well? Make lists, delegate, out-source (if possible), break into smaller tasks and try and make them as fun as possible. I am a master list maker — sometimes I joke that I need a list to keep track of which lists I have. Keeping lists helps me to remember and keep clear in my head what needs to get done as well as prioritize. For delegation — my husband and I began chore charts for our kids which helps them gain responsibility and earn money and gives us time to focus on other stuff. We sold our lawn tractor and out-sourced mowing our yard because we realized it was less expensive to do it that way. I break house cleaning into several tasks so I am not overwhelmed and feel I have to “do everything at once”. When I have buckets of laundry to contend with I will blast music that I love to get me moving and happy to have the opportunity to do it. Consciousness is very important when doing these tasks as well. If I am thinking of something else and not the task on hand it is very easy for me to get distracted and side-tracked. Staying focused and aware of what you are doing gets the job done efficiently and lets you move onto the next thing! Balance the “to-dos” in with things you love to do and people you love to see and suddenly the “to-dos” just seem like a natural SMALL part of your day.
Expect the Unexpected
As I was working on this post and wanting to get it done and posted — issues with my car came up that needed to be tended to since we have an upcoming family trip. My first reaction was sighing, “HOW will I ever finish?” and just general sadness because I LOVE when I get the opportunity to be in the flow and write steadily without interruption… this ensured I would not get that time in the next few hours. Life happens and does not always go exactly the way you expect. If you keep this even in the back of your mind and also put in there “everything happens for a reason” you will be better able to deal with these incidents as they happen. If you huff, puff and get riled up about the day being not what you wanted or get caught up in how “things didn’t work out” you are not consciously in them moment and you are actually attracting more incidents or craziness to begin. If you consciously acknowledge that the event happened you can approach it thinking “ok — this is what is — I will deal with it, see if there is anything I can learn by this happening and KNOW that I will have the time to do what I need to do”. By saying this you are not resisting but allowing — you are consciously “Appreciating all the Moments Not Just the Good Ones“. The event may still rock you a bit but you will have still maintained balance and awareness and have not allowed the “Pain Body” (as Ekhart Tolle would call it) to take over.
If I had stayed in my initial state of being sad and resisting instead of moving to acceptance this post would not have gotten done and I would not have added this section “Expect the Unexpected” which I feel IS very important in maintaining balance. I also would have gone on my trip not knowing that my car just has a small issue that can wait and wondering if it was okay with a car packed with my kids and “stuff”. Now I have peace of mind the car will do great on the trip and I added an important part to this post — hmm I guess everything DOES happen for a reason. 😉
So what DOES life Balance Mean to me? Being conscious: during activities I love, while interacting with people, while nourishing my mind, body and soul, while working and doing my “to dos” and when unexpected things happen keeps me in balance. When I get overwhelmed and start doing things unconsciously or “revert back to auto-pilot” THAT is when feelings of being unbalanced set in. When that occurs I know I need to take time to regroup, relax and possibly write a list about how to regain my balance and sense of well being.
Thank you Stacey for running this Group Writing Project. It became very evident while writing that this was something I needed to think about! I’ll end with the video of balance. Readers — please let me know if you have any thoughts, comments or any ways you would like to share that help YOU maintain life balance.
The following video won Best Oscar for Short Animation in 1990. While it is not necessarily in line with what I have written about balance — it is metaphorically interesting and captivating. I hope you enjoy this somewhat bizarre but cool animation on balance: