Regarding Balance

My friends and I often reference the word “balance” in our conversations, with a popular refrain being, “it all comes back to balance!” I have several books about life balance—my favorite being A Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and I feel like I continually engage in a dance with balance in my life, coming into various sensations of balance or imbalance throughout my days. I think I make a mistake in thinking that balance is something I will one day “achieve,” rather than dipping in and out of it. I also think that the cry for “balance” can sometimes be a secret code in my brain for, “I will eventually figure everything out and life will be perfect!” So, I appreciate this quote from the book  The Mommy Wars, with regard to balance, that eternal question:

“Let me save you some money: In a life with children, balance does not exist. Once you’re a parent, you can figure you’ll be out of whack for the rest of your life…Children are not born to provide balance. children are made to stir us up, to teach us how angry we can get, how scared we can be, how utterly happy, happier than we’d ever imagined was possible, how deeply we can love. Children turn us upside down and inside out; they send us to the depths and heights of ourselves; but they do not balance us. We can’t balance them either, and that’s a good thing, too. They’re finding out how to live in the world, and the most we can do is make them as safe as possible and have a good time with them.”

I have just started teaching (college) again after having a three week break and I’m teaching more classes than I ever have before, not to mention continuing to homeschool my kids and finding scraps of time to work on my own doctoral program. And, Alaina is on the move now—a seven month old baby is quite a lot more work than a younger baby! (Chiefly that she sleeps less and gets into more!) So, I’m in that time of trying to find my footing, my balance, with this new schedule and making sure I…once again…have my priorities in the right order. I have a blog post about “surrender” that I wrote several weeks ago that I keep waiting to post for some reason, as well as some other musings about keeping my blog posts going or not. I think I will keep writing, but I’m going to just post once per week—on Wednesdays probably (though, I may prep extra posts on that day to go out on different days). I also have plans for keeping them short, less navel-gazing, using material I’ve already written, and that sort of thing. While I really enjoy writing blog posts and there is something important—but hard to identify—that I get out of it (I think it is both about telling about it and playing my music), in the scope of my life right now, it really needs to slip to the bottom and possibly off of my radar entirely for a time.

This conviction that something I’m doing needs to change in order to be “balanced” (or perfect, as the case may be!) makes me think the root issue is really about control—control of life’s energy and flow—and reminds me of something else I read recently in Thomas Moore’s book, Original Self:

As a therapist, I often followed a simple rule…I would listen to a man or woman passionately explain what was going on in their lives and what they needed to do. This strong expression of self-understanding and intention told me a great deal about their suffering. I could see where and how they were defending themselves against life…it always seemed fruitful to explore the direction closed off by insistent plans for improving life.

To free our souls, we may have to be loosened by our suffering and our problems. Rather than look for ways to be further in control, we may have to surrender to the vitality that is trying to get some representation. Rather than understand our dreams, we might be understood by them–reimagine our lives through their challenging images. Rather than get life together, we might allow life to have its way with us and get us together in a form that is a surprise. (emphasis mine)

True personal strength is not to be found in an iron will or in superior intelligence. Real strength of character shows itself in a willingness to let life sweep over us and burrow its way into us. Courage appears as we open ourselves to the natural alchemy of personal transformation, not when we close ourselves by making the changes we think are best. (emphasis mine)

In the following section he also says that, “when people say they want to change, I hear a subtle rejection of the person they are…even then, a conscious plan for change usually comes from the same imagination that got us into trouble in the first place. A new project of self-transformation may land us back in the uncomfortable wallowing hole we just left.”

Hmm. Not sure what my conclusion is after all this now…to blog or not to blog. I don’t think that is really the question.

9 thoughts on “Regarding Balance

  1. You knew I’d like this post didn’t you? 😉 I totally agree that balance isn’t something we ‘achieve’ it’s something we strive for. And one of the reasons I’m drawn to the yin-yang symbol of balance is that the shapes represent movement because life never sits still. Incidentally, when I think about balance I don’t just think about life overall, I think about in regard to individual situations as well. (ie: the balance between caring for yourself and caring for others) And I also don’t think balance means ‘equal’ the way it does when we think about balancing scales. A tree pose doesn’t have our weight equally distributed but is still about finding balance. It can be tough but I hope you find your balance with your new challenges (and selfishly that you keep blogging!)

  2. I keep hearing you waver on the to-blog-or-not-to-blog question, and I totally get it–it takes way longer to write a post than it seems like it ‘should’ (at least for me). It’s a big investment without a clear payoff (no paycheck, for instance, and no ‘credit’ in other ways). But I am selfish and get a lot out of feeling connected with you and a handful of other bloggers I care about but have never met, especially given how isolated we feel locally right now. So … at least stick around on Twitter, please? I jest, sort of: I’d hate for you to fall off my radar entirely, though.

    • Good to know you’d miss me! 🙂 I’m really only talking about taking a break, not quitting entirely. You’re right about how long it takes and I often wonder, “why” about doing it–this only started out as a website for my CBE business, it wasn’t meant to be a blogging space for me. And, during my last pregnancy it took on much more of an online journal feel for me, rather than serving as an information resource for women. I don’t know how I feel about its larger purpose or value. I do know that a LOT of article seeds begin here. I think the solution (at least for the next two months) is quickie, once a week posts. No more philosophizing about my own life/feelings–or, is that personal voice what I have to offer right now? Blah, blah, blah.

  3. What a fitting post…I struggle with the balance of life and know that it will never be the way I want it. I need to go with the flow a bit more and this post’s timing is impeccable. Today is my son’s first day of school (Kinder, and I really want to home school) and next week I begin a nursing program…talk about being unbalanced!
    I know I cannot have it all. The life I do have needs to be enjoyed and we need to have fun with it! Thanks!

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