Balance: TF it actually mean?

What do you think of when you hear the word balance?

Do you do what I do, and picture the girl who wakes up and does her yoga practice religiously at the same time every day? Who then sits down with her journal and her green tea or green smoothie (or something green that promises to make your insides purer than the walls of a Buddhist Temple) to journal for half an hour? She perfectly portions her time to attend to all facets of her life every day; physical health, career/ work, personal relationships…

I’ve tried this way. Believe me, I’ve tried. But routines make me feel constrained and my Wednesday self generally doesn’t listen to my best intentioned Sunday self, who decided THIS would be the week I worked out five days a week and ate only healthy foods and journaled for twenty minutes each day and had a hot lemon water each morning and it goes on. I can’t do it. Because how will I know how I’m feeling on, say, Thursday? How will I know what my soul is telling me to do that day?

The problem with striving for balance

As Victoria Turner wrote for the Women’s Executive Network, the word “balance” sets us up for failure.
“We can’t possibly do everything,” she says.
“Let alone well—no matter how hard we try.
“I say it’s not about balance. It’s about choice. Giving ourselves permission to make choices and be good with them.”

Choices that ensure we can pay our bills, yes (time you allocate to work) Choices that take care of our health (fitness, excercise, what you eat etc). But also choices that keep you actually stoked to be on this damn planet. The projects or activities that make you feel creative and passionate and alive.

This is how I try be good with my choices. I ask myself these three things:

  • Does this thing align with my values?
  • Does it align with the person I am trying to be in this world/ the things I want in this world?
  • Will this experience add to my life or take away from my life?

For example, I found myself a little bit pickled this last Saturday night. There was a small dance party at a beach bar a few villages over from where I live and some rad people were there and drinks were there and next minute I was barefoot and thrusting my way across a tiny dance floor with all the grace of a baby elephant, gin sloshing out the side of my glass.

From the outside looking in this might not look like balance, per se. It certainly does not look as balanced as if I’d, for example, had a civilized beverage or two, then went home at 10pm to water my succulents and get an early night. But for some reason I had a craving for a little bit of smudgy, messy chaos. I was around people I connected with, some of the people I always had the kind of open-minded conversations that rumble through your soul and set fire to your blood.

I asked myself: does this activity align with the person I am trying to be in this world/ the things I want in this world?

No, I don’t to be a smelly old drunk. But I do want to have a life of deep human-to-human connection. Of course alcohol does not have to be present for connection, and mostly, it shouldn’t be, but on this night, it was part of the scene, and I felt like the situation allowed for me to get pleasantly sloshed. For this reason, even lolling in bed the next day scrolling for memes and desperately trying to remember a time when my brain did not want to explode out my eyeballs, I didn’t feel like I’d ‘fallen off the bandwagon’ or ‘failed’ at being in alignment with my mission in this world.

Two different feelings

However, if I was to kick on the next day, or the next weekend, I feel like for me, that would not have been in alignment. That would have been drinking out of habit, or to escape, to no
t feel a feeling. To desperately try reclaim the euphoria from the night before. Completely different feelings, that come from completely different places.

Say you are a freelancer, or work in a creative field, or have a job which makes you in charge of your own time, and one day you’re, like, ridiculously in the flow. I mean, one of those flows that sucks you into the vortex of creativity and ideas and production and turn so time into an irrelevant concept because you’re dancing with some supernatural forces of the universes over here. Like… why would you stop? Because your Sunday self pencilled in that you needed to go to the gym this afternoon? Did your Sunday self know that some sort of GOD would decide to sit on your shoulder and co-create with you today?! No. Sit the frick back down and keep going and go for a giant surf/ walk/ trampoline tomorrow.

“I say it’s not about balance. It’s about choice. Giving ourselves permission to make choices and be good with them.”

On that same token, say you got up the next day and worked every waking second again, but this time it was because the productivity made you feel validated. Like you exist. Like you matter. This is different and comes from a different place. Not a place of alignment, but a place of fear, and of not being enough. Again, the same activity, coming from two different places and feelings. One in flow and alignment, one from fear based emotions. Ya feel me? Moving on.

Just listen

Yes, nice for you to say, Caitlin. I hear some of you say. Quite nice to write about ‘living with the flow’ when you are twenty-three years old who works freelance and doesn’t have any children or responsibilities (first I will say, actually I do have children. They are small and green and have wings and answer to the names of Kiko and Scribi. But I digress.) I think though some people may have more rigid structures and non-negotiable time commitments in their day, there is still pockets of time in which to listen to your soul, to move with what it wants on that particular day, even if it swings the scale somewhat out of balance.

“Living a life of ‘balance’ has become this beacon of proof to the world and yourself that you have your shit together.”

Living a life of ‘balance’ has become this beacon of proof to the world and yourself that you have your shit together. The problem is it leaves no room to really listen to what your soul and your body is telling you it needs. For a week, in your spare pockets of time you usually try cram with activities like Tetris blocks, try feel what you are truly being called to do. Do you feel like you need to sleep in and skip this particular gym class this morning? Do it. Do you feel like going running and not stopping until you’re drowned in sweat? Do it. Do you feel like you need to switch off for the day? Do it.

You’re still working toward where you want to go, the person you want to be. You’re just taking the soul road there.