Looking for a more balanced life? Join the (very large) club. And the dance between finding it and losing it goes on.
This slippery slope is a hot topic for all of us midlifers trying to have it all, do it all and be it all. And when you’re trying to work something as large as a horse into this delicate equation, its enough to keep us all preoccupied with finding the right answer. Perfect balance is out there. We can smell it. And sometimes, we may even touch it. But not for long. If you are one of the lucky ones to find this snipe, enjoy every precious second of it, by all means. But don’t get too comfortable.
“Balance,” points out our friend, Kathy Taylor, on her HerdWise blog, is a verb,”something you do, rather than a state of being.”
Comparing the work/life balance to a balance board (you know, one of those gizmos with a wheel in the middle and a board across the top on which you stand and try to keep your weight evenly distributed so that the board tilts neither right or left), Taylor stays, “The reality is that there are only very short moments in time when you’re NOT making some adjustment. One second you’re too much to the left, then too much to the right. You’re in constant motion.”
Well so much for getting everything in my life perfectly balanced, once and for all, then moving on to other, greater pursuits. As it turns out, staying reasonably balanced is the greater pursuit. But what’s reasonable? we ask.
Taylor adds that with awareness and constant practice, the ongoing corrections we make to our time and life imbalances will get smaller and more subtle as time goes on. “The more aware you are of when you need to adjust, the less you’ll have to do,” she adds. “And if you don’t practice making small adjustments that will keep you in the middle of the board, then you’ll be stuck making big corrections later that tend to make everyone unhappy.”
Taking this a bit further, I call on my favorite life coach Martha Beck, whose recent post, Balancing Act: The Dance of an Unbalanced Life on the same subject was still percolating when Kathy’s blog update showed up on our Facebook wall (does anybody think this is a coincidence? I think not!)
We’re nearing that time of year when we look at our life and make those resolutions to do better — or as I like to think of it, the Annual Life Reorganization Summit (the practice formerly known as New Year’s Resolutions). Sometimes annual resolutions to do better and be better stick, sometimes not, but I (and lots of other people, I think) subscribe to the theory that “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
So Martha tells us (see, the Internet puts you on first name basis with everyone):
“I can tell you with absolute assurance that it is impossible for women to achieve the kind of balance recommended by many well-meaning self-help counselors. I didn’t say such balance is difficult to attain. I didn’t say it’s rare. It’s impossible. Our culture’s definition of what women should be is fundamentally, irreconcilably unbalanced. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the very imbalance of our culture is forcing women to find equilibrium in an entirely new way. ”
She goes on to say (and we already know this to be true. We learned it from our Midlife Horses) that once we “get” that the expectations we’ve been trying to fill are, in fact, impossible, we find the freedom to start living life “from the inside out.”
“You free yourself to ignore social pressures and begin creating a life that comes from your own deepest desires, hopes, and dreams,” she adds. This, Martha says, is the beginning of “learning to seek guidance by turning inward to the heart, rather than outward to social prescriptions.”
This is the kind of fulfillment our Midlife Horses show us (if you haven’t already seen it, check out our new video about this and hear from some of the women who are living this dream). I don’t know about you, but whatever I have to do to learn the “dance of imbalance” that gets me to the barn every day, I’ll do.
And granted, there may be some skinned knees and bumps and bruises to nurse as we practice this dance on our own individual balance boards (each of us has one as unique as we are, but rest assured, they’re all the same special kind of slippery), and I’m sure I’ll fall off completely from time to time.
But I’m taking Kathy and Martha at their wise word(s): Balance is a verb. Practice and constant adjustment on the fly makes it easier to stay nearer the coveted center. And above all, the pursuit of this balance is, in and of itself, “a dance of joyful disequilibrium to be celebrated and embraced” as we find new authenticity and satisfaction by living through our wobbles in a whole new way. (For more on this, check our Martha’s new book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, available December 27.)
What small adjustments bring you back to center when your life starts to feel wobbly? How does your horse help? What effect does your Midlife Horses have on your personal balancing act? How have you adjusted your personal priorities to work a horse into the mix? We get into this a bit in The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses (Chapter 3: Take the Reins).
I’d love to know what works best for you! Comment here, post to our Facebook page, retweet your favorite rebalancing tip when you see this headline pop up on my Twitter feed, or talk to us via video comment on our YouTube channel. (I’d love to see some GloZell-style comments to these posts pop up on our channel — in format, not content . . . although I challenge you to watch this “tip” post and not laugh your butt off)
Free T-shirt to the first three tipsters!