A year ago at this time, I was feeling smug and cocky. I’d just finished making my Vision Board, wrote about it on my blog and blathered on about its existence on Facebook. Kind readers like you encouraged me, built your own vision boards and shared your personal “Word for the Year.”
I took your words, plastered them on my poster and entered 2014 guns-a-blazing! Imagine my shame when I stumbled across the evidence while vacuuming the guest room over the weekend.
In addition to the dust bunnies and vacuum cleaner lines framing the poster, I was a surprised to see that I’d actually accomplished most of the goals displayed in the collage.
I should feel happy and accomplished, right?
Instead what I felt was the regret about the items not checked off the list -and guilt. Time I should have spent with my family was often sacrificed at the computer, in an airport or even in the back yard.
Normal people pick a word or set goals with measurable milestones and benchmarks. My MO is to pick seven or eight objectives and keep adding to them. Each goal has a timeline, owns a list and takes up space on a spreadsheet. My internal rev limiter is broken and knows only two speeds – go and asleep.
This obsession looks like twenty-mile training runs before dawn, KC-Fargo-Denver travel (in one day) and planting seedlings with use of a headlamp because there are only fourteen hours of daylight on Mother’s Day. These extremes have resulted in stress fractures, fender benders and more tomatoes than a neighborhood can eat in a year.
And that’s how I have always (over) done everything.
Give me a job: I’ll volunteer for every special project and travel across ridiculous geographical obstacles to make an appointment.
Print out a training schedule: I’ll increase the mileage by ten percent.
Start a blog: I’ll hurl myself headfirst and manage three blogs by mid year.
Give me a garden plot: In six months I’ll beg my husband to help me build a greenhouse from reclaimed wood and windows so that I can grow everything from seed.
No wonder he keeps threatening to disable my Pinterest account.
“The ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us…The madness of this planet is largely a result of the human being’s difficulty in coming to virtuous balance with himself. ”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Do you see what’s missing here?
And there it is. My itty bitty, ONE word for 2015. No spreadsheets, lists or vision boards…just a word and a mindset.
I cringe when people comment about how calm and balanced I look. Really? If only you knew how much mental micromanagement it takes to hide the neuroses.
Now that I’ve opened my eyes to it, the need for balance is evident everywhere: family, faith, work, writing, sleep, exercise and relationships.
One of the things I vowed to do was balance my extreme exercise routine (boxing and running) with strength training and yoga. My friend, Louisa, and blogger buddy, Michele from Mished-Up, have been gentle yoga mentors. After threatening to do so for almost a year, I went to my second class last week.
And that’s where the Universe yanked at my ponytail from the roots up.
Class was great! I didn’t bend anything that couldn’t be bent and my biggest fear – farting in Downward-facing Dog – didn’t happen.
Aside from facing the wrong way and mixing up lefts and rights, it was delightful, calming and quiet. The hour flew by and as we came to the end, the instructor encouraged us to take some time and practice any pose we wanted to work on. Being a newbie, she chose for me and encouraged The Crow (Bakasana).
Easy enough, right? Palms on the mat under the shoulders, knees tucked into the armpits and toes lifted from the ground.
Or this: (the variation Louisa was doing)
But, I looked like this:
It took every bit of strength and concentration to stay centered and focused on the task at hand: breath and balance. It was certainly an appropriate metaphor for how hard it is to do both in daily life.
We know where our priorities are (or should be), but yet they get sidelined by self-imposed deadlines and unheeded or blasted-away boundaries. We say yes when we mean no and say no when we should have said yes.
Then, there is such a thing as having too much balance. You can’t love who you love in a measured or even fashion, right? I couldn’t imagine loving my family with any emotion short of all-in and off the Richter scale.
“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
― Alain de Botton
Everything in moderation – even moderation, right? ARGH!! It’d be a sit-com if it wasn’t so tragic.
When I was almost up in the full pose, our instructor gently said, “Don’t look down at your feet. Crows look forward so they don’t fall to the earth.” Then she patted the top of the mat and said, “Pick a spot ahead of you and keep your focus there.”
“As the crow flies” is an idiom meant to depict distance and direction when going from point A to point B. The illusion in this expression is the ability of a crow to fly directly from point to point without the encumbrances of roads and landscape features that restrict man.
This journey toward balance won’t be without obstacles – even as a crow flies. For me, it’ll be baby steps, back-tracks and start-overs.
- writing and reading
- exercise and rest
- work and play
- sleep and awake
- private and public
I’ll pick a spot, find balance and fight the natural tendency to keep my nose to the grindstone while looking at my feet.
I’ll also fight the urge to go to yoga class every day until I master the crow. For right now, it’s just yoga on Friday mornings before work…like a normal person.
Tell me. How will you keep balance in your life?