April is a busy month. And May is certainly not any slower. There are choir concerts and Honors Nights and track and baseball and soccer. There are the usual birthday parties and anniversaries. And of course there’s graduation.
Spring is a busy time. But so is summer…and fall…and winter. Our lives are busy. Between work and school and church and athletics, our families are running in many directions. It is easy to get overwhelmed and feel like we are not living a balanced life.
I have had many discussions over the years with my friends about finding balance in our lives, finding that work/life balance, focusing on body/mind/spirit balance, achieving whatever that perfect balance is that keeps us healthy and happy. Many of those conversations started with a well-meaning friend who was worried about my balance at a given time.
After much reading, many conversations, and some serious soul searching over the years, I have arrived at my own understanding of balance. There is no such thing as balance, and I wouldn’t want it if it existed.
If I am going to be honest, I have imagined a life where I workout every morning, read the paper, and make a real breakfast before heading to work. Then I connect personally with all of my co-workers, clear all my emails, and check everything off my to do list. I leave work a few minutes early, check in with my parents and my siblings and take a few minutes to catch up on Facebook and Twitter. When I get home I take a quick look around the house to pick up any messes, go through the mail, stay on top of the bills, and play fetch with the dog. Then I cook a delicious meal and set the table for dinner. I clean up the kitchen, watch a few of my favorite shows on Netflix and login to do any evening emails and finish up my work from the day. I read for fun every night before bed, pray, meditate, stretch and do yoga before turning early and getting 8 hours of sleep.
My meals are healthy. My clothes ironed. Everyone gets their birthday cards on time, and I never forget an important event in a friend’s life.
Obviously I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Until there are 47 hours in a day and I become a much more perfect version of myself, it is unlikely even half of that ever becomes reality in a day.
And I am fine with that. For years I wasn’t fine with that. For years I thought if I read enough, reflected enough, or made enough to do lists that I would be able to find this perfect balance that would make my life complete.
Well guess what, my life is complete.
When I need to work more, I do. When I need to go away on a cruise for a week, I do. Are they balanced? Not even close. I think our lives are about finding the things that bring us joy and then doing them.
So release yourself from the guilt that comes with working late at school or leaving school early to go to a soccer game. Give yourself grace when you buy your contribution to the potluck or put your children in a store-bought Halloween costume. Some years you sew Pooh and Piglet costumes in the basement, and some years you buy a ladybug costume at the store. Your children will remember both years fondly, and they won’t love you any less because you bought their costume.
We each get to define what brings us joy. Likely what makes my life complete is different from what makes your life complete. Normal in my family is different from normal in my neighbor’s family. We establish our own routines and traditions. I am not advocating selfishness or wanton disregard for the needs of others; I am just suggesting that we stop beating ourselves up for not being balanced.