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Balancing Act

31 Jan

I recently decided to give up my relentless pursuit of a balanced life. That’s right. I just let it run right off into the sunset as I stood there waving my white flag of surrender after having chased it for so long. Oh, I admit that it felt wrong at first. After all, Oprah and every other life coach had been telling me for years that it was the key to happiness and serenity. The problem was there were so many things out of my control that were constantly shaking up my sense of balance.

When I was in college I thought I’d find balance when I was done with school and I didn’t have to study so much. Surely, then I would be able to exercise more, write more, and spend more time with friends. Then, I thought I’d find balance after I’d been in my new career for a couple of years. Now, I have young children and I’m busier than ever. On the few occasions when I thought maybe I was beginning to balance everything, I felt more like a plate spinner in a circus than a woman who’d finally achieved serenity.

I began to suspect that maybe the pursuit of balance was overrated. Then I stumbled upon a blog about how difficult it is for parents of young children to achieve balance and that we should instead strive to be flexible. Finally, this was something that I felt like I had some control over. In other words, it may be impossible for me to fit in all of the things that would fulfill my vision of a balanced life, but what I can do is modify how I respond to the outside influences. So, instead of getting irritated when I find myself waiting on someone, I come prepared with a pen and paper to jot down some notes for my WIP. Often times the balance shifts towards my family’s needs and other times writing gets a good chunk of my attention. Life is dynamic and maybe we should just embrace that instead.

Is having a balanced life important to you? Are you able to achieve it?

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24 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Idaho

 

24 responses to “Balancing Act

  1. Liz Flaherty

    January 31, 2013 at 5:03 AM

    Oh, yay for you. Balance would be nice (I think–I’ve never achieved it) but flexibility makes all things possible. Have fun!

     
    • Jennifer

      January 31, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      Thanks Liz! I am having more fun now. I feel more relaxed.

       
  2. Janis McCurry

    January 31, 2013 at 6:59 AM

    There’s a saying, “Man plans and God laughs.” I feel I’m flexible. Over the years, I’ve learned to accept what I cannot change and I try not to expend angst and worry when things are out of my control. I think you’re on the right track!

     
    • Jennifer

      January 31, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      Love that saying Janis! It’s so true.

       
  3. Judith Keim

    January 31, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    I’ve learned to be flexible. I’m a planner by nature but I’ve learned that life is a whole lot easier, a whole lot more fun if you go with the flow. It hasn’t meant that I give up writing–I write every day. Sometimes writing is doing other activities while I work out a plot point in my mind! You’re going to have a much easier time now that you’re “out of balance”!

     
    • Jennifer

      January 31, 2013 at 10:47 AM

      That’s a good point that you make about not giving up writing. I’m not giving things up either. It’s more like acceptance of the fact that it won’t be a “balanced” approach.

       
  4. Shonda chiotti

    January 31, 2013 at 7:43 AM

    Love your outlook and I can sooo relate!

     
    • Jennifer

      January 31, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      Thanks for reading my blog Shonda! I’m finding that a lot of my “mommy friends” can relate to this.

       
  5. stephanieberget

    January 31, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    Congratulations, you figured this out 20 years before I did. I still have to remind myself to relax about things I can’t control. Being flexible makes life so much easier.

     
  6. Jennifer

    January 31, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    You’re right Steph. It does make life easier. If only being laid back wasn’t completely against my nature :)

     
  7. marsharwest

    January 31, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Hey, Jennifer. When we were younger and had children at home, we made a discovery. We were drowing in everyone’s activities. One spring was particularly horrendous, and we said, “It’ll be better in the fall.” And that statement made us feel better. Then fall came and what do you know? We were just as busy, all-be-it with different things. LOL So ever after, when life gets hectic that’s our little phrase that breaks the tension. We laugh and plug away.
    By the way, in the big scheme of things, as you look back, those times with the kiddoes when they’r so young and sooooo needy, is a short time indeed.
    I was not flexible back in those days and had I been, life would have been much easier. Congrats to you for recognizing this early on.

     
  8. Jennifer

    January 31, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    lol! We say the same thing – “Things will calm down when….” over and over and over again. I definitely find I’m able to enjoy everything more when I just roll with it.

     
  9. Lynn Mapp

    January 31, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    Balance. Balance? Balance! Isn’t it how you look at the word? Balance is a quest, a lifelong journey.

     
  10. Jennifer

    January 31, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    It is indeed Lynn.

     
  11. Corina

    February 1, 2013 at 6:49 AM

    I’ve never really understood what this mythical “balance” is supposed to look like. I like your goal of flexibility much better. Do whatever you need to to keep yourself satisfied and moving forward. Roll with what life throws at you and find happiness where you can.

     
    • Jennifer

      February 1, 2013 at 8:56 AM

      “Mythical” is a good word for it Corina. I think “balance” is a catch phrase we’ve been conditioned to think we’re supposed to be working towards.

       
  12. maryvine

    February 1, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    I just have to tell you something, Jennifer. Probably my best writing time was when both of my children started school. I got them up and dressed and sent off and then I sat back down on my bed and completed my first manuscript (okay, it never saw the light of day) during the morning hours. It took me about 13 months, but I did it. That kind of schedule could be in your foreseeable (is that a word?) future.

     
  13. Jennifer

    February 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    I do believe that is a word Mary :) I’m hoping that I will be able to do some writing when they are in school. For now, I will just plug away at it when I can.

     
  14. Peggy Staggs

    February 1, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    Balance is elusive and those who attain it aren’t normal. The best we can hope for is to come/go prepared. And that’s why God invented e-readers, notebooks and cell phones with games.
    My quest is organization. My montra (and the words I yell at my family) is, “Don’t put it down, put it away.” The dogs ignore me and the humans just look at me as if I’ve lost my grip on reality. Sigh…

     
    • Jennifer

      February 1, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      lol! I’m glad that at least I’m normal then. Organization is another one that I’m always striving for as well.

       
  15. Kristin

    February 1, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    Hi jen!! I do feel balanced, but being balanced to me is being flexible and relaxed (for my own sanity and for the sake of my family and job). I think moms these days feel too much pressure to have the perfect Pinterest party or make their own baby food or join too many activities! I feel like you have to pick what is really important to you and pick what you enjoy doing and the rest doesn’t matter! You don’t have to impress others! If you put God first, then family, then the rest will work itself out and you will feel balanced knowing you have your priorities in the right place! Happy writing to you!

     
  16. Jennifer

    February 1, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    You are so right Kristin! We (mom’s) put way too much pressure on ourselves. We have access to too much information these days. You are one of the most relaxed and flexible people I know. You are a great example for the rest of us.

     
  17. Ingrid

    February 4, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    Hi Jen! I’ve been busy trying to balance out work, marriage, momma time, and, oh yeah, me. I’ve found the success to my life has been consciousness. I attempt all my projects by being present and focused at the task at hand. Even if that means that the important phone call or email has to wait until my son is asleep. Or my weekly run, which i need for my own sanity, is not used up by thinking about whati need to get done after my run. Being aware of what is in front of me has been my “balance.”

     
  18. Jennifer

    February 5, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Good point Ingrid. Being present is definitely a challenge for me. It’s true what they say, you really do need to take care of yourself first in order to be able to take care of everyone else.

     

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