It’s so easy to get off track and out of balance.
Sometimes I have so many things on my plate; it’s hard to get started on any of them. I feel overwhelmed, not knowing where to begin.
Do I start with today’s blog post so I can get ‘er done and crossed off? Or do I start with that bigger project I never seem to get to because after I do my daily blog post, I find other things that need attention, including making a healthy meal, going for a walk, or talking to family?
Right now, it’s tempting and oh so easy to get sucked into media coverage of the election. I start hopping from article to article and then back to the red and blue map to see if any more states have been tallied.
As a result, neither my daily blog post nor the bigger, longer-term project has gotten any attention. And now if I don’t get out for my walk, soon, it will be dark.
I bring this up not to give myself or anyone else another way to come up short on some kind of ideal list. Or give us stress. The point is to help me, and you avoid stress.
So let me start here by saying I believe a perfectly balanced life is impossible. No one’s time easily divides into neat compartments labeled personal, family, career, health, self-care, social, spiritual, etc.
No one can say what the right proportion of those things are for us. That’s our job. Only let’s not make it a job. We have enough work already.
Let’s call it a practice of mindfulness.
What I mean by that is, if or when we notice that something crucial is not being attended to, we don’t ignore that nudge. We pay attention.
If I ignore my body, I am likely to sit here at the computer for hours on ends, only getting up to make more tea and pee. That’s not enough of a break.
I need to move around. Go on my walks.
Do some household tasks that not only get my body moving but give my mind a break. New, fresh ideas pop when I am not trying to force them while washing dishes or folding laundry. There are many ways to be productive.
If I ignore my feelings, I’m likely to suppress them. They may internalize as physical symptoms — stomach cramps, muscle tension in my shoulders and neck, or perhaps a headache.
This is a signal for self-care.
That might include talking to a trusted friend for support and perspective. Perhaps journaling to clarify why I am upset or depressed. It might culminate with prayer or meditation, so Spirit can help me.
Often, I use tools learned at twelve-step meetings.
Accepting and acknowledging my pain, turning it over to God via the Serenity Prayer. If I’ve hurt anyone, figuring out how best to make amends — direct contact or a letter, which in some cases is best not sent.
Maybe I need to forgive someone for something they did, again either directly or indirectly, through journaling.
It’s easy to over-isolate during this pandemic. Do I need human contact? Even though the choices are limited, I still have them. I can call, Zoom, or maybe even meet a friend in person if we’re smart and safe about it.
I have a dear friend who lives nearby who’s a great listener. We mask up for walks at sunset. What a blessing to get exercise, contact, and emotional support all in one fell swoop.
Speaking of blessings, how long has it been since I last prayed or meditated? Constant contact with Spirit keeps me sane. I realize that after connecting, not before. Often it’s pain that brings me to my knees. But once there, usually, relief soon comes.
It’s as if God was patiently waiting for my call. After reminding me to breathe, She says, what took you so long, My Dear One? I’m here for you any time you need me.
Music to my ears in these crazy times.
I have a feeling I am going to need You a lot in the coming days and weeks. Let me grab a time to check in daily. Not because God’s schedule might fill up. God has infinite time and capacity, but because mine will.
If I can put God first in my day and everything goes so much better in my life. I can handle challenges and conflicts with more ease and grace than I ever thought possible. I go to my creative zone fully energized way more often.
So, where I’ve ended is precisely where I need to start. Yes, balance is a great concept. But not one to stress about. And if I start and end my day with God, the balance takes care of itself. Can I get an amen?
Marilyn Flower writes political humor and satire to delight socially and spiritually conscious folks. She’s a regular columnist for the prison newsletter, Freedom Anywhere, where she writes about faith and prayer. Five of her short plays have been produced in San Francisco. Clowning and improvisation strengthen her resolve during these crazy times. Stay in touch!