Thursday, March 3, 2011

On balance.

Side note before we even begin: Yes, this is supposed to be an obnoxiously skinny cartoon representation of me “balancing” life (the baby carriage is clearly symbolic, lets not get carried away) it was the lesser of 2 evils from my google image search results – while the elephant on a beach ball may have been more accurate, I went for skinny red head striking yoga pose for obvious, on to the topic at hand...

A few weeks ago I attended a conference where I was asked to sit on a panel and then lead a small group discussion on finding balance in life. The attendees were all 20-something ladies who are searching to find that all too illusive state called balance. As I prepared for the weekend I was a bit intimidated. The panel was comprised of some incredible women, all who have had long established and successful careers and family lives and the woman who was facilitating the program is an accomplished author, life coach and all around impressive lady who at a young age has dedicated her work to helping people navigate through the treacherous-ness that is one’s 20s. Who was I to talk to 20-somethings about balance? I am just slightly out of my 20s (which lets be honest, I barely survived) and still find myself on the daily quest for the B word. At the same time I was quite flattered to be asked to participate and knew that it would likely be a great learning experience AND I would get a weekend in San Diego with my mom, cousin and niece – sign me up!

We were set to have the panel discussion on Saturday morning and on Friday night I was reading through the questions that the moderator of the panel sent us to prepare. I was making my notes and things were flowing freely until I got to the second to last question: What is a something that you were told in your 20s that you have discovered is a myth? Immediately two things popped into my head 1) ‘You can be anything you want to be’ and 2) ‘You can live a balanced life’….wait, what?? BALANCE?!? I certainly cannot get up in front of all these ladies and claim that a balanced life is a myth, that is the whole reason we are all here, besides who am I to say? So I decided to prep the “you can be anything you want to be” answer and be done with it (which BTW is a really good answer, because it is a totally myth, but that discussion is for another post entirely).

Saturday morning came and I put on my cutest ‘its raining and I am going to be on a panel, but need to look chic and cozy” outfit and headed out for breakfast. We all got settled in the front of the room, did our intros and the discussion began. It was interesting and witty and organic – people were very engaged and then it came to the second to last question. Each of the ladies answered with beautiful, poignant and eloquent statements. I was anticipating my turn and getting ready to deliver my amusing antidote about your mom telling you that you could be anything, but then you went on American Idol and learned the hard way that “anything” did not include singer…blah blah blah…funny funny funny…brilliant nugget of truth, the end…when suddenly I was called on and without skipping a beat said ‘I believe that true balance in life is a myth’….wait for it…and…crickets. I quickly busted out some trusty ‘look at me I can laugh at myself’ humor and attempted to explain myself…

Life is not balanced, it never will be. There are times when you work like an insane person because you have to, or you have kids and it is all about them or your partner needs to be overwhelmingly supported so its all about them or YOU need to be overwhelmingly supported so its all about you or everything is falling apart due to circumstances beyond your control and you are doing everything just to get out of bed in the morning…the list goes on and on. THEN in the middle of this ALL we are beating ourselves up because we can not seem to find the time to meditate and work out and cook healthy meals and do laundry and have an immaculate house and go to a yoga class and be an attentive partner/friend/caretaker/family member (this is my list, I am sure you can insert your own) – we are unbalanced in our quest for balance, so how about them apples…

As I was talking, I realized that I was talking at myself -- this is what I needed to learn and I was hoping that I made some sense to someone else (if anything I made them laugh, which is always a win in my book) and once the discussion was over, we moved on to small groups and then back to the big group again. The aforementioned brilliant facilitator (who is Christine Hassler, btw, you can read more about her here and 'like' her here…she is really fabulous) brought it all home by explaining (and I am paraphrasing here) that balance is really about the big picture and about your self-care. It’s about understanding that things will be up and down at any given time and in the middle of all that we have to find ways to be good to ourselves because that will be the only way we can tackle what life throws us. Balance is not stressing yourself out over the list of things you can not fit in to your life, rather it is about picking one or two of those things at a time and committing to a few things that make a BIG difference.

The weekend was amazing. I met some incredible ladies, each of which is on a path of greatness. I learned a lot about myself and committed to a few small things that have, in just a few short weeks, made a big difference. So thank you 20-somethings ladies searching for balance, you taught this 30-something a whole lot!


  1. The idea that you can acheive perfect balance all the time is like the myth of supermom. I have days where I feel like supermom, followed by days where I feel like failure mom and I start saving for my kids future therapy sessions. I would say life is more like balancing on ball where you are constantly having to shift and chance position to keep from falling over. Some days my kids need all of me, like when they are puking in the middle of the night and so sleep gets cut out. And other days I am ready to pull my hair out so I shift my energy to being quiet and still away from everything else and my husband and kids shift over. And then there are the days when my husband and I get a chance to revel in romance and the kids get shifted to my parents. =o)

    Great post friend, and way to be honest and authentic on the panel =o)

  2. still fuzzy on the balance thing.

    yet high fiving you on the 'you can do anything' thing.

  3. its a fine precarious line which i choose to walk in fabulous albeit ridicuoulsy high shoes. notice that these were all WOMEN? do men struggle w/ the issue of balance? perhaps but i dont' think they have as much pressure to 'do it all' as we do. I'm certainly looking to find that happy medium and everyday is a struggle. some days i'm winning and some days....well let's just say i need a time out. overall I think the support of good friends,husband/partner and family are what really balance us and keep us from falling over completely.
    great post my dear and a good reminder to all - and yes please lets stop telling kids they can be anything or at least let's say you can be anything w/ in your skill set? cuz let's face it, not everyone is a top model nor should they be!
    love to you

  4. Sister, you're absolutely right.
    -from a 40-something ;)