Oh, I used to believe there was.
I used to repeat that mantra over and over again to friends, family, clients.
“Balance is what brings you good health. It’s what so many of us are missing in life, and what would make us so much happier.”
The truth of my life looked a whole lot different. I was finishing my Masters program, trying to pull my final project together for my Nutrition program, and was driving all over the Bay Area to perform with my Bhangra troupe. Oh, I was also working part time at the social justice Foundation.
I was desperately TRYING to be balanced, constantly looking at the slices of the pie of what I was missing:
The thing is, worrying about trying to maintain balance, instead of just being in the flow of where my life was at the moment (also, being more honest with myself that I COULDN’T do all those things at once, and definitely couldn’t do them well), is what was causing the problem.
Would you tell someone who is suffering from a debilitating chronic illness that they needed to go the gym more, or make sure they are getting in social time with their friends?
Would you tell a woman who just gave birth she needs to make sure she’s still clocking in a 50-hour work week?
Would you tell a person who just experienced the death of a close family member that they need to keep up with their volunteer efforts?
Yes, we need to check-in with ourselves on a consistent basis to make sure we’re feeding and taking care of the different parts of ourselves. But the truth of what life looks like is that you will ALWAYS be a little off-balance. There will always be one or two parts of your life that need more addressing, more focus, more commitment, in order to complete a project or task or a romantic encounter or a reunifying with yourself, and some of the other stuff will fall to the wayside.
This idea of balance that I believe started from a good place, has become just another thing for people – particularly women – to feel guilty about not doing well.
Because “balance” is most often than not geared towards women.
* * * * *
I’m certainly glad to be a woman in America in 2017 as compared to most any other time in history (though if anyone wants to fund my move to Europe…). I would have made a horrible housewife and mother. I would have been depressed and consistently frustrated. I would have made my husband’s life hell.
But at no other time in history have women been asked to balance climbing the ladder at work, keep the home clean and the cupboards stocked full of food, raise the perfect children, get-or-maintain a perfect body, oversee the finances, keep their man or woman happy and satisfied, be a support to other women in their life, get enough sleep so they don’t age too fast, be politically-active, be in therapy, on top of keeping that smile on their face at all times so that when they walk down the street they don’t receive that dreaded advice (you know what I’m talking about, ladies).
So as well-meaning as all the holistic health magazines, alternative practitioners, therapists, and other caretakers are when they say, “work on balance”, I now see it as a death-trap to creativity, connection, deep learning, and being a wild woman.
It also takes away the vast inherent knowledge that we have within us, and that nature has provided for all of time, of the ebb and flow of every part of our lives. Sometimes, you have to put work aside because you’ve just fallen in love and it’s that perfect time to dive into that abyss. Other times, a consistent exercise practice needs to be put on hold because your thyroid and adrenals are suffering and exercise is just exasperating them. Still other times, like when you start and nurture a business, you have to let other parts of your life slide to the corners while you breath life into your creation.
In no way do I recommend falling into the abyss of one area and struggling to find your way out. But what I’ve found is that the more you trust yourself, the more you know when it’s time to dive in and be overwhelmed, and when it’s time to pull back and focus elsewhere. It’s an innate knowing, instead of a “have to”. The more you connect to your internal world, the easier it is to follow your own compass.
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