Thursday, July 26, 2012

balance. harumph.


It was yesterday afternoon, in the middle of a conversation with my mom, when I realized: I am failing at balance. Epically. 

We were walking and chatting, and I found myself telling her that I hadn't been writing at all lately--not a blog post, a journal say nothing of short stories or chapters. Since writing is such a big (well, ideally big) part of my life, to not be practicing it at all--and to say that out loud--gave me pause.

In the midst of a busy summer semester, I feel like my hair is on fire (a slow burn, but still there's smoke). And yet, I persist in avoiding the word "no." I don't say it to others. I don't say it to myself.  Not just not agreeing to things...but not inventing extra things for myself to do, at the expense of all that I want to do, the stuff that feeds my soul, that I usually "leave 'till last" or "get to when all my 'work' is done." These days, it seems like it's never done, because I like to fill needs. I "see" a need, I want to fill it. A good thing, I think, usually--the Sunday School needs a Christmas program organizer. A friend needs some company. A student needs extra help on a paper. A food bank needs donations. A mentee needs to talk.


As a very wise woman--a pioneer missionary in the Amazon jungle--once advised me: "the world is full of need, and if you try to meet it all, you'll go crazy!"

And, probably, feel defeated all the time. Or frustrated. Or thwarted. My plans always look so lovely and clear. (except for when I make them, forgetting OTHER plans that conflict, or not anticipating the something that will pop up and scramble things...) If my plans could ever actually be executed, I am convinced I could meet the needs of THE WORLD!!!

Or, maybe not. Maybe not much more than those I actually struggle to meet right now. I am really so, so small, and the universe is wide and wondrous. So, where can we find balance?

Well, I don't think there is a "magic formula" that I can recite, write or practice. I've already tried several--time "diets," new journaling schemes, new planners and ways to write in them.

Another wise woman I know--a colleague and friend in the office next door to mine--said to me once, "it's all about the little choices." And I feel the truth of that, more than I've ever felt truth in any one of my ten-step-balance-plans.

The older I get, the better I come to know myself. I know, for example, that I'm effusive and encouraging, ambitious and determined. I can be stoic, self-sacrificing, social, and very goal-oriented. I think that is why I expect to decide to be more balanced, and then look for a general "balanced" feeling to be swathed around my life like a soft blanket. Balance is a big word, one that I've obviously not mastered yet. And contrary to my expectations, it doesn't blanket my life. But "self" and "care" are littler words. So is "rest." So is "tea."

"Let" and "go."

It was a little choice to leave work a bit early yesterday, so I could work out with my mom. It was a little choice to let her take a commitment off my schedule for me. It was a little choice to hold my tongue when my pride wanted me to argue. To put away my planner. To make myself a cup of tea.

I do not think I will ever master this whole balance thing. Honestly, I'm too tired to try to "work on it" or "start a plan" to boost it any time soon. One thing I will say, though, is that I'm ready to make some little choices, to take small steps. I'm going to try to focus on the little words for now.

What about you? Do you feel balanced? How do you maintain balance in your life?


jamica said...

oh girl...trying to find balance in one's life is like a constant struggle! i guess it's something we try to work on all the steps, right?? here's to making the little choices that help us acheive the lil' balance that we can get! xo

nic said...

Tell me about it! It seems like I'm trying to "work on balance" EVERY DAY. Baby steps I smile and think of Bill Murray;)

Jess said...

I am at the exact same point in my life. I just realized that I have no balance lately... I haven't been doing anything that feeds me, not writing at all, not even a lovely letter to a dear friend (ahem, sorry). So I made a miniature vision board and I've done a little writing lately. I suppose, as Dr. Seuss advised, "Life's a Great Balancing Act!" - I suppose we'll constantly be reminding ourselves to find that balance.

Jess said...

p.s. I made a new blog...we'll see if I actually keep up with this one. : )

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