When people talk to me about balance I want to throw things at them.
Certain words have become catch-alls, cliches, if you will, and full of well… nothing. If you google “quotes on balance” everyone from Buddha to the dude that just taught the yoga class with the crazy abs has a quote about how you must find this thing, it’s something you create, not a destination, blah, blah, blah.
I’ve decided they have no idea what they are talking about and have simply surrendered to a cultural norm.
I have a love/hate relationship with cliches and quotes. I’ve come to think of them as fillers. They are sugared words, glazed, and mostly well intentioned. I do believe that life experiences create these phrases and ramblings. Some are incredibly beautiful, insightful. I also think that the person delivering the quote has no idea of the history or intention of the person quoted nor the inner workings of the person they are hoping to help. Maybe it came from a man who survived a war, the death of children, syphilis and amputations and you are telling a clerk at Target. Maybe it was a Taoist who had never experienced love and a divorcee is your audience. Maybe it was a writer with a drinking problem and a thesaurus, the odds are high.
I don’t care for the copy/paste quality of quotes or cliches when they’re offered in a prescriptive fashion. I sometimes wonder if they’re not proffered as a very kind exit strategy from conversation, a way to acknowledge, but remove the need to dig in and truly relate.
When I was in my early twenties I remember ruminating on the word “balance,” wondering what my life would look like when I achieved it.
I still have no clue at 40.
I’ve taken the power away from the word. I’ve decided, instead, to deconstruct it and make it less zen idealism and more of a word with letters, realizing that no matter how you look inverted, you probably struggle with balance as well, so let’s just call a spade a spade. Instead of striving for this otherworldly word that is just some vowels and such, I have divided my life into my roles as a mother, career gal, woman, friend and writer. I consciously strive to simply be present in each of them. I have days when I’m running between things and Liv wants a mama moment. Rather than snapping that we’re in a hurry or telling her that I have chores to do, I stop and remind myself, “THIS is my life. I am living it right now.”
It helps to reframe things.
My life is not whether or not I get laundry done. It is not whether or not she eats yogurt for breakfast tomorrow or I’ve checked a box from a To Do list that never really needs to get To Done. It is the extra smiles and moments we spend snuggling. It is the living that makes a life, the interactions, the blessed conversations she wants to have right before bed when she relaxes into her prayers. That is when she tells me who she is and who she’s becoming. It is not the fact that it is three minutes past when I told her to be quiet. It is when she asks God to make sure her heart stays kind and that our dogs will stop stealing her food. It is the sweet moments when we’re at Target, and instead of telling her to behave and be quiet while she yammers on in the cart, I catch my nugget sweetly say I’m a great mom and I’m really pretty, can I buy you these cute pajamas, mom?
I have caught so much just by reminding myself that THIS is my life.
I have also realized that in order for me to be my most present, most engaged self, I must first take care of myself. This is something I require of myself. I fill up my bucket first and those close know that while I may work my tail off and love my daughter like my life depends on it, I also find a way to run to the gym, hit a yoga class and take small trips to fill up my soul. I am healthier and happier for others when I am taking care of the person that does the taking care.
I learned the hard way.
When I was going through my divorce and running in fifteen different directions I was anxious, sickly and a raging insomniac. I didn’t even like me. We have a tendency to think of ourselves as “selfless” if we put everyone else first.
Nope. Forget that right now, drop it.
The best thing you can do for the people that depend on you is to take care of yourself first and foremost. They will benefit from your enhanced health, mood and overall demeanor.
I promise, Get on it.
Give yourself the space to forget things. To leave the dry cleaning at the cleaners. To be out of dryer sheets. Forgive yourself if your body says nap when your clock says gym. Turn your To Do list into Suggestions and Reminders. The only person in between you and YOUR life is you.
Forgive yourself. Love yourself. LIVE.
Balance be damned.
Originally published at loreandlittlethings.com