Balance

balance

I heard a statement recently that made me reframe my thinking. As I attempted to balance on one knee and one hand during a gentle yoga sequence (audio), the speaker said,

Balance is not static, but consists of tiny, constant movements and adjustments.

My whole body shook from side to side. I tried to shore myself up from my center so I wouldn’t fall over.

This experience made me think about how I view my life when different aspects aren’t, what I consider to be, “optimal.” When I’m feeling defeated at work, one of my relationships is strained, I’m not as kind or positive as I’d like to be or I’m choosing too much screen time over self-care, I feel as if I’m sucking at life.

What I’ve come to realize is that life, by definition, is never balanced, nor is it static.

It consists of tiny, constant movements and adjustments.

We just have to center ourselves as much as possible (and try not to fall over).

I know this can be a difficult time of year for some. The holidays are approaching and the days are getting shorter and colder.

I know I have less energy, my mood is lower and I’m really missing my parents. If you read some of my previous posts, you might even notice that my writing is more introspective this time of year. I’m definitely feeling the feelings.

Although my life isn’t ever static, it’s become much more balanced. If you’re interested, I wrote an essay on what I know works for me. You can read about it here: https://beallthere.net/2015/06/20/be-all-there/

Wishing you balance (and peace) now and always.

Love,

Jeanne xox

 

 

 

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Plan B (B is for Better)

pipe to UGL2

The recent rain opened up a new section of our usual kayak route.  Beautiful picture taken by my talented friend, Mary Ann

 

Over the last few years I’ve learned to loosen my grip and let go of preconceived expectations.  This was more out of self-preservation than desire to give up trying to control everything and everyone.

I’ve always felt that if I didn’t orchestrate my life then things would surely begin to unravel. But when I finally realized that I was unraveling, I let go. I was so tired of trying to keep all the balls in the air that I just gave up trying. It wasn’t easy or comfortable, but I was tired and I needed a rest, so I just let go.

And I waited for everything to come crashing down around me.

But it didn’t.

To my surprise, things at work, at home and in my relationships  didn’t deteriorate and, over time (and with practice),  I became much more relaxed and less stressed. Life became more manageable and enjoyable!

I’ve learned a few things about myself in this process, but perhaps more importantly, I’ve learned about my relationships. Not feeling the need to always control things and taking a step back has made space for me to hear and really listen to those around me. I feel as if my relationships are more balanced and authentic and have even been told that I’m more fun to be around! I sure hope so!

Letting go of preconceived expectations has eliminated the trap of paralyzing disappointment when things don’t go as planned. But what’s really exciting for me is that I’m now more open and curious to what I can learn from alternate plans. I feel like I have more of a variety of experiences with people, places and things. My world has expanded.

I recently made reservations at what appeared (online) to be a great restaurant. When I arrived I realized it wasn’t where we wanted to spend the evening with our friends. Not only wasn’t it low-key enough, but I had actually mistakenly made reservations at one of the other locations…..in another state!  We had a good laugh about my online reservation blunder, decided on another restaurant, had a delicious meal, a great time and, since we were so close to our place, were able to extend the evening back there. Plan B worked out better!

Sometimes I can’t find the products I usually use and end up trying other products that I like better, or my preferred hotel is booked and we end up staying at a really great place and make wonderful memories. One time my husband and I even planned an entire trip around a visit to a National Park only to find out once we got there that it was closed due to a government shutdown! This experience turned out to be the subject of one of my first blog posts.

Rather than wallow in disappointment, sadness, fear, and even anger that your plans don’t work out, be curious, adventurous and spontaneous and embrace Plan B!

It could be the Best thing you ever did!

 

Do you have an example of when Plan B worked out better? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Embracing Imperfection

buddhaEmbracing imperfection is easy when you feel like you’re doing a pretty good job of keeping your imperfections at bay and you’re feeling nearly perfect. But this seems counterintuitive. Kind of like when people say they place little value on money when they have never struggled financially or had to cash in their loose change for milk or bread.

But no one’s perfect and we should be acutely (and constantly) aware of that if we truly want to be accepting of who we are, warts and all.

Shame is the birthplace of perfectionism.

~Brene’ Brown

What will people think of me? I wasn’t as kind as I could have been, I didn’t cover my mouth when I sneezed, I used foul language, I didn’t get around to talk to everyone, and on and on and on, the shame storm goes.

I know someone who always uses the quote, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards.” I think it’s a sports reference. It always irks me when he says it, since I think we’re allowed to take a little break and appreciate how far we’ve come. It doesn’t mean we are backsliding. Sometimes we just need a rest.

Thank goodness I never reacted to him one of the many times he’s used this quote like I was tempted to with, “I completely disagree and here’s why!” I actually see the value in it now and, while we can feel good at how far we’ve come, we can’t rest for too long.

If we know what makes us feel healthy and balanced and we stop doing these things, then we may not feel so healthy and balanced.

I know what makes me feel good. I love to be out in nature, hiking, walking or gardening. I feel more balanced with meditation and yoga. These things make me feel strong and self-confident. Perhaps if I didn’t lose sight of them, if I continued to “move forward,” I wouldn’t worry so much about what someone thought about me when I didn’t cover my mouth when I sneezed.

Don’t lose sight of what you need to give yourself to be your best and keep doing these things. If you fall out of practice, get back into your self-care routine as soon as you can because you never know when you will be knocked off-balance and feel as if you are “moving backwards.”

If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.

~Herschel Walker

The Ebb and Flow of Life

the ebb and flow of life

I couldn’t wait to get home from work. I parked my car, got the mail, unlocked the door, stepped into my cozy living room, turned up the heat and changed into my pajamas.

It’s 3:38 in the afternoon.

It’s been a cold, unpredictable spring, with sudden changes in the weather, at work, and in the lives of the people I care about.

I’ve been struggling to find balance and momentum lately. I feel tired when I wake up in the morning and I’m disappointed in myself that I haven’t been following through in my self-care routine. I haven’t been able to keep up.

Keep up with whom or what?

When I paused to think about my feelings I realized that the standards that I fell short of were self-imposed and could easily be adjusted. Maybe I just needed to simplify my self care routine and focus on one thing right now, like meditation or writing, or even sleep. With warmer days ahead, perhaps I will focus on just getting outside and moving more.

Growth comes in many forms. Life is a process and there will be times that we move forward, times that we take a few steps back and times that we remain still, pause and reflect on how far we’ve come.

Each of these situations is an opportunity for growth.

“Being fully present isn’t something that happens once and then you have achieved it; it’s being awake to the ebb and flow and movement and creation of life, being alive to the process of life itself.”

~Pema Chodron

Lose Your Stuff And Find Yourself

I really didn’t have a game plan, I just knew that getting rid of things made me feel better. Over time, letting go of the clothes, household goods, personal items, relationships and commitments that didn’t “add value to my life,” to quote The Minimalists (https://www.theminimalists.com/), allowed me to focus on what was beneath it all!

At first it was a little overwhelming. Without all of the distractions, I had no choice but to examine myself.

I’ve always felt like a square peg in a round hole and rather than get to know and embrace who I was, I found it easier to fulfill the various roles that I held: daughter, sister, friend, student, wife, mother, teacher. There was some sense of comfort in knowing what each role required and carrying out my “duties” to perfection.

But perfection isn’t ever attainable. I found that I was constantly concerned that I wasn’t meeting my high standards (or my assumptions of what others’ expected)  and exhausted for continually trying. I felt inauthentic. 

This time was different. I had simplified my life to the point of having fewer distractions and in grieving the loss of my dad realized that, while roles are fleeting and can disappear at any moment, who we are at our core is constant.

This time, I decided to remain focused on my simplicity journey and myself. I let go of the need to be in control, the expectations of others and the all or nothing attitude. These things hadn’t served me well, in fact, they depleted me.

I’ve shed many of my old habits and replaced them with what makes me feel balanced and happy (close relationships, meditation, nature, to name a few). I’ve written about them and my self-care routine in earlier essays if you want to read about them in more detail.  

I bring who I am to every relationship, rather than what I think any role might dictate.

Being authentic and following my heart is surprisingly easy. Simplifying me has made things less complicated, more carefree and lighter. I’m happier and able to focus my time and energy on what’s really important and meaningful to me and those that I love.

Who knew that losing my stuff would lead to finding myself?

Lose Your Stuff And Find Yourself

In the moment with Ellie!

Thanks so much for reading! Writing is something that I really enjoy doing. It helps me sort things out, in a way, and I hope that by sharing my personal journey I can help someone else or make even one person feel less alone. Please share if you’ve connected with my message and/or if you think someone else might. Thank you! xox

Jeanne

 

 

Dear Mom

Pink Rose in the sun

Now I know why you didn’t like to get your picture taken. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself in pictures. I take them anyway, since looking at them brings me joy and reminds me that I have a great life!

I know why you spent all of your time with your family at the expense of outside friendships. I want to focus on the people who are most important to me. Some of my friends are like family to me.

Now I know why you always preferred to work in an office where you were the only woman. Relationships, particularly with other women,  can be difficult. They can be complicated and painful, and at the same time they can be joyful and loving. I have learned a lot about myself through the lens of my relationships with others.

I understand how it annoyed you when dad made a mess of your kitchen when he cooked. I’m glad that familial roles have blurred and aren’t as clearly defined anymore. I think that this has made us relate in a different, more intimate way as a family.

I know that you loved me equally as much as my older brother and sisters, even if you didn’t exactly plan to have a fourth child. I couldn’t imagine how I would possibly love another child as much as my first-born son. My heart found a way when my daughter was born.

I know how happy it made you when all of your children got along with each other (we still do)! I love that mine do and take comfort that they will always have each other.

Now I realize how much your happiness was tied to ours, when my kids are happy, I’m happy.

Now I understand why you were so upset when I moved to another state, even though it was only an hour away. It meant that we wouldn’t see each other as often. I feel the most full when I’m with my kids and miss them whenever we’re apart.

I know how difficult it must have been when your mom passed away and how much you missed her every single day. I know how many times you must have wanted to pick up the phone to talk about your day, hear words of encouragement, share some happy or sad news or just to hear her voice. I know how important that unconditional love was to you and how, with your mom, no matter how old you were, she would always make you feel loved and protected.

I miss you terribly and it’s not the same without you.

But now I realize that I was always capable of loving myself just like you always had.

Making New Habits (Mindful Shopping)

shopping

Old habits and routines are hard to break. I used to go shopping at least one day a week, usually on the weekend, and most of the time I didn’t really need anything.

My routine was the same. I would be on the hunt for one or two things, like the perfect shirt or home good. I liked to canvass the entire store, check out what was new, take a closer look at some things along the way, and I was sure to check out the sale items. I didn’t miss anything! 

These days I don’t go shopping unless I really need something or just to tag along with someone else. I spend my time and money doing other things.

But old habits are hard to break. I’ve been in my small house for a few months now and I felt I needed to create more storage space in my cabinets by putting some items in baskets. My plan was to take a few of the lighter things out of the drawers in a dining room hutch, put them into decorative baskets and put them on top of the hutch. This would free up some drawer space for other things.

I knew exactly which baskets I wanted to buy, too. They were dark brown and rectangular shaped, with a lid. My daughter and I went to a craft store where I had seen them before. I was excited to find exactly what I was looking for!

And then I started to second guess myself. Perhaps the baskets should be a little bigger. After all, if they were going to free up some cabinet space, the more space freed up, the better, right? What am I even making room for? All of my stuff fits in my cabinets now and I’m not planning on buying a bunch of new stuff. This minimalism thing is really working for me. What was I thinking?

After talking things through with my very patient daughter, I realized that I didn’t need the baskets to free up more space since I didn’t need more space. We left the store empty-handed and grateful that we didn’t have to wait in the long check out line.

I think we are so conditioned to shop, buy things and create more space for more things that we’re not even mindful of what we’re doing. It just becomes routine and automatic.

Thinking things through and being mindful of my purchases is a new way of thinking and being. And I like it!