I fell hook, line, and sinker for the elusive goal of obtaining balance. I even wrote a poem about it here. But what is balance actually? As I think more about my life and how it is in constant flux I become anxious for the need to get it all lined up just so. I picture myself walking on a tight rope, focus honed in on the task at hand. Unable to move left or right for fear of free falling. Rigid in my movements. The flexibility to adjust? Drastically limited. And what I come away with is a life filled with restraint. No room to breathe too deeply because I may throw off my weight distribution on the rope. No freedom to take in my surroundings because a loss of focus can mean disaster. Although the acrobats ability to balance may be awe inspiring it should not be marketed as a way of life.
My takeaway? Balance is a generic term used to imply control. If every plate is not spinning, if you are not constantly adjusting; micro movements meant only to keep all the plates in the air, then you have no control over your life!
Who came up with this BS? And why did we fall for it? I personally fell for it because being the quintessential control freak that I am, having the ability to balance all things seemed achingly appealing.
Look at me ! Look at me!
Spinning all these plates while hopping on one leg!
I’m unfulfilled and miserable…
What changed my mind? Life. Life changed my mind. Being a humble overachiever (does labeling myself humble make me less so?) I decided to not only work full time while pursuing a doctorate but to also participate in a school principal program while going through a divorce and adjusting to being the custodial parent of three children. Why? Because I thought I could. And somehow I managed to keep all those plates spinning for awhile. But as life would have it, I was thrown a HUGE curve ball. My youngest daughter got sick at a crucial time in my program and I had to make a choice. I dropped all my plates except one. She became my focus. But I was plagued by an extreme since of guilt. I was unable to keep my balance. I dropped the ball, broke the plates, jumped off the tight rope. I failed. I felt this way for a long time and no mater what anyone said, in my heart I was a failure. We are suppose to be able to balance right? That’s what successful adults do!
Then I called Bullshit.
I asked myself, what would I tell a client? Would I think of them as a failure for dropping the plates? And my answer was, Of course not!
So is my life balanced? NO. And it most likely never will be, at least not for long. There will definitely be times where I will need to be more focused but my goal is no longer to spin plates just so, or walk a tight rope with precision but to be intentional in my movements.
So I say F#%k Balance and live life intentionally!
No more doctoral program, no more principal program. No more guilt. Dropping those plates was the best decision I ever made. Now instead of balance I am becoming more adept at focusing my attention on my intentions.
There will be days when the house is clean but the workout was skipped. Days when you go on a date with your mate but you couldn’t make it to your friends party. Days when you spend hours cutting out paper-dolls with your littles but that chapter in your book didn’t get written. Days when dinner is frozen pizza so you can write that chapter you didn’t get to yesterday.
There will always be some give and take, some ebb and flow, some ups and downs. And ever so often the moon will be full, the kids will behave like angels, you actually will WANT to work out, your attempt at a new recipe will be NAILED, your mate will take out the trash without prompting, the wine will be chilled just so, and the breeze will smell like fresh flowers and not biohazard; that bliss point will be reached. Aligned scales!!
And you know what’s even more wonderful and ironic? That usually happens without you even trying!
So allow yourself room to adjust, to grow, to live, to breathe!
Jump off the tight rope. Find your path and walk it with intention.
You are worthy of being holistically well.