I read a lot–and I mean a LOT–about health, wellness, fitness, nutrition, and striking that all-important balance. After 15 years of teaching yoga and fitness AND 46 years of dealing with, well, life, I’m here to tell you that balance does not look like what so many articles and blog posts tell you it looks like.
Balance is kind of like the mathematical average I talked about in my last post. It means almost nothing except its the middle of something. It means we’ve added up a lot of stuff (housework, relationships, career, hobbies, spiritual practice) and come up with a number that translates to…too much on our plate and not only being unsatisfied but feeling like an abysmal failure.
Or is that just me? *side eyes everyone*
Balance, as I’ve read, is about allocating time and resources, including your precious energy, evenly or according to priorities. So, if family is number one, for example, and work is number two, you split your time and resources 50-50. Or you could split them be percentage, weighting the more important things, say family gets 60% and work 40%.
But in the real world, it rarely works out that way, does it? And we spend a lot of energy feeling bad about that. So, when my kids took a break from sports and extra-curricular activities this past semester, we found ourselves with some down time. Life was definitely less hectic around here and believe me, this family needed it. With all this time to spare, neglected things could get take care of.
But you all know what I’m about to tell you: it didn’t happen. We found ourselves hanging out at home with our feet up a lot more than normal. And there were times when I thought, whoa, wait a second, there’s lots of things we could be getting done around the house, in the garage, in the family room downstairs, outside in the yard. So I thought I should come up with a chores list so we could make the most of this unproductive time.
Yeah, no. That didn’t happen. Well, a few things did get done, but mostly we caught up on all the rest we weren’t getting when life was dragging us around by the scruff of our necks. But you know what? The kids ended up getting bored of all that rest time and came up with some things for themselves to do. I guess that video games and YouTubers getting boring after long enough, after all.
Next thing I know I’m on an after-dinner run to Joann’s with my son for balsa wood, glue gun, exacto knives, paint, brushes, and string. He’s told me several times what he’s making, but I still only know that one, it’s for Latin Convention and two…uh, Latin Convention is next weekend. *shrugs shoulders sheepishly* I suppose I will get to see the finished project(s) by then…or in pictures.
Over the last year I’ve been beating myself up trying to strike semblance of balance in my life, but instead, I have often found myself on the couch with a cup of tea and a book or the Audible app and a lap full of knitting. I should be writing or planning and preparing for an essential oils class. I should be working on the guest room or updating the hardware on the kitchen cabinets. If I’m not going to write and publish, I should fill that spot, that allocated time with something, anything productive.
I’ve beat myself up for not working out more as I try everything under the sun to heal this plantar fasciitis faster, damn it. But to no avail. Turns out healing can’t be rushed. Imagine! And it’s not going to fit neatly inot a balanced schedule or even a logical routine. I block out time for it, but the Universe and my body laughs and laughs. They have had a good chuckle over that nonsense.
So here’s what my kids have taught me: there is a time for everything under the sun and sometimes it’s time to rest. And sometimes, that’s not going to jive with all your obligations and activities and plans and goals and dreams. Or maybe it does. Maybe, just maybe, your body and whatever powers that Be are wiser than our little human Monkey Minds.
Some days, its going to be “time to do nothing”, as a thru-hiker buddy once declared as he flopped on the hotel room bed in Massachusets with the Gilligan’s Island theme song playing on the TV.
What then, is balance, if it’s not the execution of carefully constructed to do lists and planners?
Maybe it looks like this: throwing your goa mat on the floor, standing on it for 60 seconds breathing, then rolling it up and getting on with your day. Maybe it’s walking in the park for 6 miles instead of running those miles. Maybe it’s pulling out the TRX gizmo and getting same lat pulls in after executing the 5 Tibetans. Maybe it’s taking a friggin’ nap in the afternoon because *gasp!* tired.
Sooooo, maybe I had a lot of rest to catch up on the past few months. Maybe, just maybe, in order to heal my heel, my heart, and my mind, I needed to read and sip tea, read the Tarot, knit, and spin a little yarn.
Are you starting to see what I’m getting at here? Are you starting to appreciate maybe what balance REALLY looks like?
If we run around like crazy keeping up with our kids’ schedules and all our obligations, be they personal or professional, fun or drudgery, and don’t insert rest breaks on the fly as needed, then we’re going to have to catch up on all that rest. And maybe all at once. And our bodies might insist on it, like my shoulder getting all jacked up with an oveuse injury because I did too much yoga, personal training, TRX, and other assundry work-related activities.
This month I brought TRX back into my life after a looooooong time (almost 4 yeas) because I’ve almost exclusively been practicing yoga. Guess what? There’s a lot of pushing in yoga (down dog, up dog, plank, Sun Salutations) but no pulling. My shoulder’s been acting up again.
Enter TRX. Gentle lat pulls and my shoulder is much happier.
Balance is about adjusting to the waves, riding them out. You never know exaclty how it’s all going to pan out, so be prepared to make changes. Balance isn’t about maintaing a particualr stance all the time, or standing still, or even making time every single for every single thing.
It’s about going with the flow without losing your way. It’s okay to fall; it’s okay to go flying ass over teacup.
Balance is about being honest with yourself and taking the day off when you need it or to make room for a new priority that’s suddenly arrived at your door step. It’s about maybe going into your hermit cave, Amy, to take a break from the world. It’s about switching from “supposed” to to “need” to.
It’s about being okay with life the way it is, and making time to rest, play, and work within the state of constant change.
And just as my kids have taught me, eventually all that rest or downtime will lead you forward, not back to what was, but forward to what can be. After all these rest days I am now writing again. I’ve brought TRX back into my workouts after years of being away and a little afraid. My energy is the best its been in years. I’m actually motivated again and seeking out all the projects and opportunities that I once lamented I would never be able to talk on ever again.
And I am finding it easier to be happy with myself these days! When I’m not insisting that my life be balanced.
Balance is meeting your needs in the moment, being flexible, and adjusting to life. It’s not perfect and it sometimes looks messy, unproductive, and lazy.
But it’s not.
It’s the way to greater happiness and satsifcation.
And isnt’ that our ultimate goal anyway?
So go make some happy for yourself right now! What do you need? Take care of it!
Much love and light!