Sometimes forces align in the universe to focus my reflection. A little over a year ago, I dealt with a brick on the head that made me re-evaluate my health and my work-life balance, and I made drastic changes that have led me to this moment of reflection. Recently, the universe has aligned again, helping me to appreciate, for perhaps the first time in my adult life, a feeling of nearly perfect balance.
My Sunday school class is currently discussing the book Practicing Balance, and I've noted each week that the people present, who span various stages of life, share stresses that I feel. Work. Children. Relationships. I've also noticed, however, that I am not really feeling the stresses at the moment. I am still extremely busy with more deadlines in my near future than I have ever before had, but I do not feel guilt about what I should be doing in each area of my life. I've achieved acceptance (at least for now) of where I am and where I am going, and I trust that I will get where I need to be - wherever that is.
Perhaps this balance has surfaced because of the changes I have made in the past year, or perhaps it is because I submitted my tenure box a few months ago. Perhaps, still, it is because I have been taking more time to just "be."
My daughter has ballet every Tuesday after school, and typically, when I am working from home, my son plays quietly at home while I work in my office, and my sitter takes her to the class. Last week, he ran into my office, straight off the bus, and asked, "Will you play baseball with me?" I looked at my computer. I looked at the sun streaming through the window, and without hesitation, I said, "sure."
This weekday moment was followed by a weekend retreat, where I practiced yoga, breathing, and letting go in an attempt to "just be." When I returned from the retreat, I felt a calmness, a stillness that resonated for days. I did not snap at my husband. I did not become impatient with my children. I easily pushed aside angst that arose at work. As I told everyone, "I'm feeling zen."
I am waiting for my tenure letter to arrive this week. Though that letter will reveal the result of years of focus and work, it comes at an appropriate time - for I am feeling balanced; I am feeling zen; and I will get where I need to be - wherever that is.
So how did I get here?
Throughout our discussions about work-life balance on Sunday mornings, my classmates and I agreed that balance is not an end-point. Inherently, balance involves stretching, movement, and, sometimes, missteps. It involves knowing where you are, evaluating your time, energy, and happiness, and making adjustments to get you where you want to be.
This past week, we documented our "time" in pie charts and considered how we would like our time to shift. The leader gave us a list of possible strategies to help us work toward balance. The list offers great ideas - and many I have implemented in my own life over the last year. Perhaps that is why my "today" pie chart looked identical to my "December 2013" chart. My goal is to continue the quiet shifting that will keep me in balance. And to take moments that will help me to keep feeling zen.