Practicing Balance in Your Life

This post is part of the “Life Balance Group Writing Project” created by Stacey Hoffer Weckstein of CreateaBalance.com

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.

Tom Volkar’s whole blog Delightful Work is devoted to showing you how to do what you love. Here is a good post to start out with “Is Your Work Delightful?”

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. ;-)

Summary:

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.

Video:

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:

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Comments

  1. R. MAK. says:

    I have bookmarked this. A great resource on how to spend life… sounds to me like a refresher course on life…

    Thanks a lot for writing such a powerful and life changing article.

  2. Hi RMAK,
    Thanks so much for your VERY nice comments. As you can see — I feel I learned a lot about balance as well while writing it! Those are the best kind of posts – it made me take a deep look inside and realize HOW I balance. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to comment and your kind words. Gratefully, Jenny

  3. WD Favour says:

    The greatest challenge I face in maintaining balance is in the areas of my passion. I love planning, reading, researching, surfing the web, blogging, writing. It’s so natural to get carried away by these activities that I see everything else as a ‘distraction’. I have to fight for time to give my kids quality attention…to be with my wife, to attend to other important thing.
    I do this with a time budget. A time budget ensures that I allocate time to my family and so on. For instance, this evening, I decided, against all of my desires, to not get on the desk and on the internet. I decided to spend 2 hours telling my children stories and playing computer games with them. It was fun. Now they are at sleep and I can get on to work.
    It’s challenging, but, for me, a time budget, and mental programming, helps me maintain balance in my life.
    I enjoyed reading this post. I’ll paste my favorite portion of it in my SU review.

  4. Hi WD,
    Thanks so much for sharing your time budget and that is definitely a good way to balance. I’ve run into the same issue — if you LOVE and are passionate about what you do — how do you break away and do other stuff? You answered that wonderfully and I do something similar. Ok — I have DONE my post – which was my major “work” to do — now tonight I spend with full attention on my kids! Speaking of…. they await and I am going to a school Open House and will have some time to enjoy their company before and after we go. As far as Ray goes — I find a “date night” or two during the week where we put everything else aside and pay attention to each other — works VERY well! Thanks for the stumble and for commenting! Love, Jenny

  5. Hey Jenny, Thanks for the endorsement and link. I enjoyed reading about your passions. When we spend our days doing what we love to do concerns seem to fade away. More folks need to follow your example and trust themselves. It can be a challenging journey when you put yourself too far in the future
    but taking action changes perspective and with a fresh perspective possibilities open.

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Works last blog post..Leveraging Community

  6. Hi Tom, My pleasure recommending your site — you have tons of useful information and I truly believe in following your passion. Yes, taking action is key yet when you are doing things you love many different ways to produce ACTION seem to present themselves. I am really enjoying going through your posts – thanks for covering such an important topic as Delightful work! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. Gratefully, Jenny

  7. I loved this post, but I have to say that the two little words “recovering perfectionist” mean the most to me. I am the same: I used to be a perfectionist. It was TERRIBLE. It made me focus on all the wrong things. Learning to let go of perfectionism was the best thing that has ever happened to me – and I’m still not quite there. Still working on it.

    Vered – MomGrinds last blog post..Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

  8. Hi Vered,

    Yep I haven’t fully perfected being a recovered perfectionist yet myself! ;-) BUT I do celebrate the things I have been able to “let go of”. The “perfectly clean house” – yeah with 2 kids THAT was JOYFUL to be able let go of! I still feel like I judge myself too harshly sometimes and put WAY too many expectations and demands on myself — the residual effects of the perfectionism… but I am grateful for the direction I am headed and am still making my way on the path to being able to “let go” of lots more…

    I am very happy you enjoyed my post and thank you for taking the time to comment.

    Gratefully, Jenny

  9. Jenny – defining balance is a personal thing, I think. Lots of people think my life looks way out of balance right now, but for me, at this time in my life, I’m happy with the balance I’ve got.

    But it’s fluid this balance thing…which is why I don’t worry too much about what others think of what I call balance. It changes along with my life, and besides – if I really want to think I have balance, all I have to do is take a really big picture view of things and there it is: balance staring back at me.

    Asking me down here at the minute-by-minute view of my life? No way – no balance anywhere in sight!

    Great post!
    Suzanne

    Suzanne Bird-Harris | vAssistant Servicess last blog post..Project Powerful and Positive

  10. Hi Suzanne,

    Thank you and you are right — things always seem to sway and are constantly in motion. I don’t believe “balance” is necessary to be happy and it is nice to hear you like things just the way they are! Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment.

    Gratefully, Jenny

  11. You are absolutely right. Both insight and creativity can be byproducts of balance and staying in the present moment. My learning to stay present is what led me to my new blog. I felt driven to volunteer at so many nonprofits because the need is so great. Instead of fretting about not being able to do enough, I decided to let the universe determine where I was most needed. In a relatively short time, I was inspired to create a blog that they could all use to get the word out about the good work they do. I hope your article helps others to find balance and become inspired.

    Susan/Together WE Flourishs last blog post..Highmark Shop to Stop Domestic Violence

  12. Lance says:

    Jenny, I enjoyed this post very much. You really have highlighted many of the key areas we should focus on to find balance in our lives. With the important thing being able to find a balance between all the things in our lives that bring us joy. So, I see it as a two-pronged approach – first we need to really determine what it is that brings us that joy. And then, we have to balance those things in our lives. Excellent writing!

    On another note, I took up cross country skiing a couple of years ago. I crashed, and it hurt. But I still like to ski – does that mean I like pain…

    Lances last blog post..Life Balance: A Very Personal Pyramid

  13. Hi Lance,

    Your experience with cross country skiing means you don’t let fear stop you from pursuing what you love — VERY cool and key to learning new things.

    I am so happy you enjoyed the post. Yes — the two-pronged approach and the first step IS key and where some don’t stop to spend the time to figure it all out. Making lists of WHAT made me happy and brought me joy was critical in my healing. I was concentrating on how badly I felt and that always made me feel very out of balance with all parts of my life.

    Thank you so much for your nice words and for commenting Lance!

    Gratefully,
    Jenny

  14. Kristy Roth says:

    Hi Jenny-

    I have been connected to you from Tom’s Leveraging Community Project! I am so glad to be apart of this experience because I have found some really great and informative blogs. I am very new to blogging and coached with Tom on developing my own coaching practice. I will definitely be taking the time to read all of your articles, because Balance is one of things I need to work on most. I look forward to reading more great articles.

  15. Hi Kristy,

    Thank you and I will visit your as well. I am really enjoying Tom’s project and he has very inspirational people and blogs involved. Look forward to getting to know you.

    Gratefully, Jenny

  16. Parth says:

    I think combining work with passion is the most important step in a truly fulfilling life.

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