Creating Balance When Life is Nutty
I’ve had a really busy spring since my book The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion came out. I’ve been juggling speaking engagements all over the country, keynote speaking here at home, garden design, and writing contracts. I haven’t had a day off in who knows how long, so it’s a good thing I love my work! But even if you love your work like I do, there’s something to be said for balance.
I’ve never been particularly good at creating balance for myself. I’m the stereotypical creative type that can forget to eat because I’m engrossed in designing a garden or writing an article. I exercise in fits and starts. My writing keeps me sedentary, and we all know how bad that is for you.
So lately I find that I’ve been short-tempered, reactive, and irritable. And confused. Because, if I have all these awesome things going on in my life, why aren’t I happier about it all? Because…drum roll…I’m waaaaaay out of balance.
And this bothers me for a number of different reasons. I don’t like feeling this way, the people I love don’t like me to be this way, and I write/speak about wellness. When my platform is wellness, balance is a part of that. And I don’t like feeling disingenuous.
I know myself well enough after 53 years to know that I will not stick to a rigorous schedule (see “stereotypical creative type” comment above), but I know I need to regroup before I start to be deeply unhappy. I’m a regular person just like you, so I know that you experience this, too.
So what do we do? Here are my thoughts:
- Try not to worry about achieving balance every day. If I feel balance overall on a weekly basis, I think I’m good.
- Balance means taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and financially.
- Eat regularly, and watch sugar intake. For me, sugar leads to hills and valleys of energy, which I don’t need when my goal is to be steadier.
- Take a day off every week. I know this sounds basic — trust me. But when you work from home and like what you do, it’s easy to think on a Sunday, “Oh, I’ll get a head start on those articles due next week.” Pick a day, any day, and use it to relax, rewind, regroup, and organize your surroundings — but no work unless it’s an emergency.
My goal is to eat more regularly, move every day, pay attention to my yoga/meditation practice (when I get busy, I stop doing this), and use my garden as a place to regain balance.
My yoga deck was a gift from my fiance, Brett, after I finished my treatment for breast cancer in 2013. He wanted to encourage me to be outside, in the garden, to heal and find balance. This is where I practice yoga, meditate, do some light gardening, and just relax. My office also has a window that looks out onto the yoga deck, so I can see this healing space even when I’m not out there.
Look — I know it’s difficult to have balance. You’re thinking it’s a pipe dream and you’ll worry about creating balance for yourself when work slows down, your children are older, or you’re retired. But balance is about creating a good life for yourself now, particularly when things are stressful — and your children can learn by watching you take care of yourself.
Bottom line advice from one who struggles — don’t make creating balance into a checklist for yourself, or you’ll quickly wind up feeling guilty and resentful. Think of it as a gift to the best friend you have…you.