Out of Balance
Do you ever feel like your life has somehow gotten out of balance? Sort of like a tire that’s worn thin on one side, causing it to wobble and screech and no longer perform its job very well. I was talking with a client the other day about her out of balance life and I realized I’m in the exact same boat. I needed to be asking myself the same questions I was asking her.
It’s easy to tell when your tires are out of balance, or your checkbook or your washing machine. There are telltale signs. But what about your life? For me, the symptoms lately have been pretty blatant. Tossing and turning through the night because I can’t seem to shut off the constant replay in my mind of the looming to-do list on the renovation. Feeling on the brink of exhaustion ALL the time. Turning down almost every invitation to socialize the past couple of months because there just is no free time. The list goes on.
The checkout lady at Brookshire’s asked me this week if I wanted to use the “60 and over” discount. What?!! Not cool. After I fumed silently for a bit and called her some choice names in my head, I had to stop and ask myself if the lack of balance in my life lately could truly be affecting my appearance. Maybe there’s a valid reason I’m looking old and tired. And maybe there is something I can do about it.
I’ve been rereading Brene’ Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. This book is about Wholehearted living and how to get there. Believe it or not, play and rest, calm and stillness, laughter and music are all crucial parts of living wholeheartedly, but they must be intentionally cultivated in this crazy, high-stress world. I’ve been paying attention lately, noticing the ways people greet each other in the grocery store, at church, at the office. “Hey! How’s it going?” “Ah, just busy, busy. Work, work, work, you know.” “Don’t I know it? Same with me.” We wear our busy-ness and our tiredness as a badge of honor, almost like we need to prove our worth by it, not realizing our tires are wobbling and squealing and taking us somewhere we never set out to go.
In the “Cultivating Play and Rest” chapter, Brene’ makes a compelling observation. She and her husband decided to sit down and write out what it looks like when things are going really well in their family. They listed all the practical things that make their family work, their own “personal ingredients for joy and meaning”. The list included things like sleep, working out, church, family and friend time, eating healthy foods, getaway weekends, meaningful work that’s not all consuming, time to piddle.
Then they pulled out their Dream list, which is their ongoing list of things they want to accomplish or acquire. A bigger house, a salary raise, professional goals, etc. And they noticed something interesting. All the things on their dream list required making more money or spending more money. When they compared the two lists, it hit them. If they would simply let go of the accomplishments & acquisitions list and focus on the joy & meaning list, they would be actually already living their dream. Not waiting for future enjoyment, but truly savoring life right now.
When the dreams require more and more time, energy and money and the postponing of all that brings true joy and meaning, maybe it’s time to redefine the dream.
I’m not saying to throw away the dream list. I believe dreams are an essential part of wholehearted living. But when the dreams require more and more time, energy and money and the postponing of all that brings true joy and meaning, maybe it’s time to redefine the dream.
What does balance look like for you? What constitutes play in this adult life? Isn’t that something we left behind with our childhood? Apparently it’s just as important as work and sleep.
So here’s my attempt at restoring some balance in my own life. I plan to take tomorrow off from work of any sort. I may watch movies all day or bake pumpkin muffins or read a book. I think I’ll reach out to a couple of friends and schedule a coffee date next week and maybe check out the McKinney Wine & Music festival. Normally by mid-October my house is full of the fragrances and colors of fall, yet with our current houseful and every square inch of space being used, it seems superfluous to bring in more stuff. But the truth is, I miss it. So maybe I’ll bring a few things out after all…
Let’s cultivate some play and rest this weekend! Are you with me?